Combustible Celluloid
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With: Reese Mishler, Pfeifer Brown, Ryan Shoos, Cassidy Gifford
Written by: Travis Cluff, Chris Lofing
Directed by: Travis Cluff, Chris Lofing
MPAA Rating: R for some disturbing violent content and terror
Running Time: 81
Date: 07/10/2015

The Gallows (2015)

1 1/2 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Yet another in the seemingly endless parade of low-budget, "found footage" horror movies, this one feels like it was rushed into production without a chance to develop a strong story or characters.

In 1993, a Nebraska high school play called "The Gallows" went terribly wrong when an actor was unexpectedly hanged and killed. Two decades later, the drama class prepares to stage the play again. Wisecracking football player Ryan (Ryan Shoos) is in charge of capturing everything on video. His pal, Reese (Reese Mishler) has the lead in the play and is struggling with his performance, while nursing a crush on his leading lady, Pfeifer (Pfeifer Brown).

Ryan convinces Reese that if they break into the school and destroy the sets, Reese won't have to go on. Unfortunately, they, along with Ryan's girlfriend Cassidy (Cassidy Gifford) find themselves trapped inside, and a malevolent spirit seems to be in there with them.

As The Gallows begins, it places all its chips on the Ryan character, a thoroughly obnoxious, disrespectful bully, who is behind the camera; Cassidy loses points simply by being his girlfriend. The others are fairly muted, never letting us in on who they really are.

The story never establishes any kind of reason for re-staging the deadly play, or what the motivation of the evil spirit is (or even who it is). And the characters are never smart enough to recognize the obvious (don't climb that ladder!) or avoid horror movie cliches. Additionally, it's not much of a horror movie; the two writer/directors rely entirely on loud noises and jump-scares, without any building of suspense or dread. All in all, The Gallows has too many hang-ups.

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