Found-footage flick is big on surprises, low on horror

JUMPY CAMERA: The film unfolds mainly through a single camera used by one of the characters, which results in too many shaky shots.


    Sep 03, 2015

    Found-footage flick is big on surprises, low on horror


    Horror/81 minutes/Now showing

    The story:

    Charlie, a young lead actor, meets with a freak accident in a high school play in 1993. Twenty years later, the school's drama class wants to revive the play to commemorate the tragedy, but things take a horrific turn.

    THE Gallows is the latest attempt at a found-footage horror movie, boasting a premise that surely entices teens and makes them jump out of their seats.

    With its young cast and high school-centred story, The Gallows is a good movie for a date night. However, serious horror buffs may see it as merely the latest botched attempt at the found-footage formula.

    Taking the lead in the movie is a handsome football jock, Reese (Reese Mishler), who opts to act in the play simply because he has an eye for drama nerd Pfeifer (Pfeifer Brown), who plays the lead female role in the production.

    Reese's best buddy is Ryan (Ryan Shoos), who takes his video camcorder everywhere - making him the principal videographer of the film.

    Interestingly, writer-directors Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing kept the script open to allow a good deal of room for the actors to improvise.

    The film delivers scores of jumpy shocks - bangs on the door and victims being pulled abruptly. In the first half of the film, the audience waits in anticipation for something shocking to happen.

    But the suspense starts to weaken the minute the spectral antagonist, who takes the form of a hooded hangman, shows up. With a rope as his only weapon, there are not many creative murderous methods he can apply when he is threatening the students.

    The film unfolds mainly through Ryan's camera lens, which results in too many shaky shots and some bad ones including one prolonged shot of the actors' shoes.

    More cameras are used later in the film, allowing the directors to give different perspectives on the same scene. Even so, it will barely tingle the spines of horror fans.

    The Gallows builds on an urban legend as the catalyst of the film. However, it lacks in-depth and convincing details.

    Given its half-baked legend and heavy reliance on jumpy surprises, the film is the latest entry in a long list of mediocre found-footage horror films.

    But with its attractive young cast and its school-centred theme, The Gallows offers a sufficient dose of horror to amuse teenage viewers.