I'm going to take a wild guess and say that The Gallows is a film that was written without the intention being that it would wind up as a found footage horror movie. Do you know why I'm saying that? Because the premise of this movie is actually pretty damn good. Found footage horror movies are the same old thing, a jump scare here and a jump scare there. Nothing's new. With The Gallows, the plot is something that actually exists. I know. Crazy, right? Perhaps I'm wrong. Perhaps this was always meant to be a found footage movie. I like to think that it wasn't though, and if it wasn't, would it actually be good? Probably not, but it would certainly be better.
I'm not going to lie, I don't know who the main character of this movie is. One would presume it's Ryan (Ryan Shoos), the football player who we're first introduced to, although once the plot actually begins, he doesn't do an awful lot. I'm going to say it's Reese (Reese Mishler), who ultimately ends up with the most screen time. It's the day before the school production of the Gallows and Reese has the starring role. The problem is that he's an awful actor, only doing the play to impress his co-star, Pfeifer (Pfeifer Brown). Knowing this, Ryan and his girlfriend Cassidy (Cassidy Gifford) come up with an idea to break into the school at night and vandalise the set, post-poning the play. Ryan tagging along, they do this, only to find that "Charlie," a student who was killed in an accident during the last time this play was performed, still haunts the school, and he's out for revenge.
The Gallows had the potential to be much scarier than it winded up being. Like I said, the premise for this film is actually quite investing, taking a familiar concept and putting a new spin on it. The problem is that the concept itself ends up making less and less sense as the film goes on. As these characters travel through the school, attempting to find a way to escape, they learn more about "Charlie" and what he wants out of them, leading all the way up to one final twist that's both predictable and handled in a way that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
Ignoring the plot, were the scares at least scary? Not frequently. There were some solid moments of build up here and there, except the way the film and the sounds have been edited, the scares can be seen a mile away, resulting in the ultimate payoff being completely underwhelming. You can tell whenever the film is going to throw a loud noise in your face or have a dead body pop in screen, whether it's the film dying down to silence or a lot of fast moving shots followed by a slow, panning one. The filmmakers manage to loose whatever tension they previously created.
Despite having a small cast, I just didn't care for any of the characters. They're all a bunch of assholes, and when it comes to films like these, they really rely on you to care about the protagonists. They require you to care for them, because as we all know, some of them are going to die, and the only way to get a reaction out of us is if we want the characters to survive. I didn't. They're douchey, dull, clichéd and the performances are two dimensional, the actor of Reese literally having one expression for the entire movie.
The film is unbelievably stupid as well. All the characters need to do is get out of the school before they're all killed by "Charlie." So what do they do? Talk, procrastinate, explore some other areas, go back and forth between places they've already been and flirt with each other. It's ridiculous. On top of that, the characters also make the dumbest, most out of character decisions, such as leaving one person behind or other dumb horror tropes like that. The Gallows is an hour and a half of painfully stupid horror clichés that leaves many unanswered questions, the main one being why the hell they didn't just take down the locked door at the start of the movie. They brought tools with them. They could literally unscrew it off the wall. A ghost can't stop you there.
To sum up, The Gallows is an hour and a half of horror clichés, douchey characters making stupid decisions for the sake of the plot, tension ruined by cheap and predictable jump scares, and acting that'll make you cringe. A good premise ruined once again.