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The Gallows (1 star)

Uninspired, sometimes comically inept high school horror flick

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The Gallows

Writer-directors Chris Lofing and Travis Cluff are behind the latest in a long line of found-footage horror movies that comes with the neat premise of a high school haunting, but that bumps around in the dark for far too long with no sense of where it’s going.

In 1993 at Beatrice High School, Nebraska a performance of 'The Gallows' goes horribly wrong when a teenager is accidentally hanged in front of the audience. Fast-forward to the present day and the drama club, under the leadership of a girl named Pfeifer (Pfeifer Brown), have decided to re-stage the play as a kind of tribute. Jock-turned-actor, Reese (Reese Mishler) – who has agreed to get involved because he has a crush on Pfeifer – makes his way back to the school the night before the show to wreak havoc on the set with his two friends, Cassidy (Cassidy Gifford) and Ryan (Ryan Shoos).

The set-up is odd as the trio have no real reason to return to the school and the film borders on parody at points, with Reese screaming into the ether that he should never have agreed to do the play making matters funny rather than terrifying. A spooky photo of the cast from 1993 keeps appearing and is key to a stupid plot reveal. It really is tough not to laugh at times.

There are a few effective jump scares but they come minus the much-needed unsettling ambience, or the flow to further the story, so feel mechanical. The young cast are fine at looking scared, but their dialogue is often dire due to a decision to simply point out the obvious. Their conversations feel like recaps of previous scenes and, in a film that’s only 81 minutes long, it’s certainly not needed. To be fair, this is Lofing's first feature and there's evidence of some technical talent, but nowhere near enough to recommend a film that plays like a repeat performance of so many other found-footage horrors.

General release from Fri 17 Jul

The Gallows

  • 1 star
  • 2015
  • US
  • 81 min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Travis Cluff/Chris Lofing
  • Cast: Reese Mishler, Pfeifer Brown, Ryan Shoos
  • UK release: 17 July 2015

This sometimes comically inept high school horror film kicks off in 1993, when Beatrice High School's performance of The Gallows goes horribly wrong, and a teenager is hanged in front of the audience. Fast-forward to the present day and the drama club have decided to re-stage the play as a kind of tribute. Cue 'scary…

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