THE GALLOWS ** USA 2015 Dir: Travis Cluff, Chris Lofing. 81 mins
A small-budget found footage horror movie picked up by Blumhouse and Warner Bros, this turned enough profit to earn a sequel, though it’s doubtful you’ve ever met anyone who remembers it.
It opens with 1993 VHS home movie footage of a school production in which a “staged” hanging happens for real. Twenty years later, a new bunch of students are staging a fresh production of “The Gallows”, and one of them is documenting the road to opening night using contemporary video technology (what we are watching is purported police department footage). Our obnoxious amateur filmmaker offers commentary on class losers, non-hot girls, etc and plans to sabotage the production, but instead gets locked in the theatre with a small group of peers, who all discover those whisperings about the place being haunted are actually true.
What ensues is a pretty bog-standard array of LOUD bumping-into-each-other scares, spontaneously appearing nooses, invisible attackers, slamming doors, one-note characters dragged to their doom and rumbling sound design. The backdrop is pleasingly creepy and the shock ending satisfyingly downbeat but it’s as unremarkable as any number of straight to DVD found footage chillers.
Review by Steven West