Belfast Telegraph

The Gallows review: Fright-flick is just a load of old rope

Yet another 'found footage' offering from producer Bloom makes for an uninspired idiotic scary movie, writes Andrew Johnston

Horror super-producer Jason Blum - the man behind the Paranormal Activity, Insidious and The Purge franchises, to name but three - has finally allowed quantity to hack and slash through quality with his latest miserable effort.

The Gallows is yet another "found footage" film, utterly uninspired and at least a decade too late to benefit from any goodwill towards the ailing sub-genre.

What began with the mighty Cannibal Holocaust and gave us gems including The Blair Witch Project, REC and Cloverfield - along with such dreck as The Poughkeepsie Tapes, REC 3: Genesis and Into the Storm - finally reaches the bottom of the barrel with this wretched offering.

The biggest challenge for any fright-flick is to give the audience someone on screen they can root for. Sadly, from the moment camcorder-obsessed high school jock Ryan (Ryan Shoos) appears, pointing his lens at anyone and anything he comes across in spectacularly obnoxious fashion, the only thing you're holding out for is his inevitable grisly demise.

Fellow students Reese (Reese Mishler), Pfeifer (Pfeifer Brown) and Cassidy (Cassidy Gifford) aren't much more likeable, and poor performances from all involved doesn't help. It's not clear whether the characters share the actors' names for reasons of realism, or because The Gallows' "stars" are so terrible, to do otherwise might have confused them.

And so, the quartet clatter about in their school's drama department after nightfall for reasons that are so mind-numbing, even repeating them feels like an act of sadism. It all revolves around an amateur production of the titular play, a cursed affair that sees our four zeroes menaced by the ghost of a boy who died on stage in the same show decades earlier.

This explains the presence of a noose in every other scene, but it doesn't excuse the procession of found footage cliches that besmirch proceedings.

Idiots continuing to record long after any normal person would have ditched the camera? Check. Supposedly creepy glimpses of a mysterious presence over people's shoulders? Check. A girl crying in extreme close-up, whilst burbling inanities? Check.

Mix this in with typically idiotic scary movie behaviour - wandering off alone, climbing up ladders in the dark, taunting the evil spirit - and you're set for 81 minutes that feel at least double that. Having one director put his name to this garbage would be an insult to the filmmaking profession, but that it took two to helm The Gallows - Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing - frankly beggars belief. Perhaps the pair (who also penned the so-called script) took it day about to shoot, while the other sobbed in his trailer over what he had become. Produced on a budget of just £65,000, it won't take many bums on seats for Blum to make a small fortune from The Gallows, but even the least discerning teenage multiplex crowd is likely to be calling for capital punishment to be brought back for the makers of this dead-on-arrival disaster.

One star

Belfast Telegraph

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