I'm a die-hard horror movie fan. I love a good ghost story. I'd seen the trailer for this film about ten times before I decided that I was going to see it. The concept at first glance wasn't something I was interested in. There are some horror films that I just stay well away from, but this one seemed interesting.
Basically, the film begins with a camcorder video of a school play aptly titled The Gallows. In the end, the apparatus that is meant to look like it is hanging the boy in the lead role, fails. And Charlie is killed immediately. Now, 20 years later students at the school are redoing the play, and this time they're going to finish it.
Reese, is a star footballer and the reluctant star in the lead role. He isn't too keen on playing the role because he doesn't want to be seen as a loser for being in the play. It's suggested by his friend holding the camera that they should sneak in that night and trash the set so they can't perform the play the next night. Reese is reluctant initially, but he's cajoled into going along with it. The cameraman discovers a door at the back of the theatre that doesn't lock, and that's how they plan on getting back in.
Because this film is entirely shot on a hand-held camera, it was much more stressful because we were only able to see what the cameraman was seeing. We weren't able to see ahead of time like we normally are in films. We get even less vision when all the lights are mysteriously not working. The camera goes into night vision so that everything is green and black and terrifying. For a long while we don't see Charlie, we just get strange occurrences that only happens if a spirit is involved, but when the first character is murdered, we get a semi-good shot of the spirit himself.
It's quite a mess. This is mostly because there are four main characters and they really only run around like headless chickens the whole time. Nobody really has any idea about what they're doing or what they should do. They split up without reason and are irrationally moronic, which was obviously to get the plot moving, to piss off the ghost and get to the action.
Understandably, the way this film was written, there wasn't really much for these characters to do while they waited for the spirit to act. The school was locked, the electricity and phones weren't working and all they could do was talk and wait. It was a pretty hopeless situation. I'm not sure if that's the most interesting or entertaining scenario, but these quiet moments where they are walking around set up the perfect situation for a jump-scare. And this movie was absolutely full of them which had the cinema on edge.
It was scary. Don't get me wrong, this film was intense, and it was frightening and not something I would be volunteering for. It was a horror movie, and unfortunately for the genre, horror comes with a lot of silly tropes and themes. Charlie was definately someone I wouldn't want to come across, but he was mostly silent, and we only hear about the boy's background from 20 year old video tapes. I suppose that makes it worse because we really don't know much about him, but it dulls the sympathy I feel for him now that he's recklessly murdering teenagers who seemingly have done nothing wrong.
The good news was there was never a moment when I thought something was going to happen and it didn't. It didn't give you any anti-climactic scenes or scenes that failed. In fact, the main cast worked really well together.
Ultimately, The Gallows was a good horror film. There were plot holes and things that don't get explained, but I didn't get an overwhelming feeling of nonsense, and when you're in the moment, watching it, you're too busy being terrified to notice. It's a good addition to the found-footage genre and a great standalone horror film that I'd happily watch again.
The Gallows is in cinemas now so go and check it out.