The Gallows still

The Gallows follows a group of high school students staging the revival of the titular play. The only problem is that the last time their school put on a production of The Gallows, one of the students involved was killed. Now, someone or something is after them and it’s pissed. The cast is being picked off one by one and time is running out.

The Gallows is written and directed by Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing. (click here for our interview with the duo). The pair prove surprisingly competent in their first major feature film effort. They have a knack for building atmosphere and crafting the kind of tension you could cut with a knife. Ultimately, the whole is better than the sum of its parts but this is still a film worth watching for casual and devout horror fans alike.

The picture stars Cassidy Gifford, Pfeifer Brown, and Ryan Shoos in the lead roles. None of them are experienced actors and that ultimately shows. Their performances are a little weak at times but none of them are so poor as to badly detract from the audience’s enjoyment of the film. Ryan Shoos was a little obnoxious at times but that had a lot more to do with the dialogue that was written for him, rather than his actual performance. He is very much the meathead of the film and some of his lines were grating and hard to swallow.

The Gallows stillThe script is the film’s biggest weakness. Some of the dialogue took me out of the picture and had me shaking my head. However, there are enough legitimate scares throughout that I was able to get past some of the corny dialogue and continue to enjoy the film for what it is. And what it is, is extremely scary. There are countless jolts peppered throughout and, for the most part, they are not cheap or gimmicky. The directors set out to make a film with legit moments of terror and they did a commendable job. We never really see the killer for more than a brief second or two and that makes him all the more terrifying. The directors play on our fear of the unknown and make effective use of audio cues and lighting to really drive the terror home.

The single biggest thing The Gallows does right (and its saving grace) is just how scary it is. I jumped out of my seat a couple of times during the screening I attended. This was definitely amplified by the fact that I was the only person in the screening (it was an early morning weekday showing) but it scared me, nonetheless. What kept me from focusing on the film’s flaws was just how frightening it is and the way that it kept delivering one scare after another. Sure, the found footage angle is tired and didn’t make total sense to the narrative but I was able to set that aside and enjoy the picture based on the fact that it is a thrilling ride with ample scares. The film never overstays its welcome. It gets in and gets out, getting the job done at a punchy 81 minutes.

The Gallows StillThe effects are fairly understated, probably due to the project being shot on an initial budget of just $15,000 but the FX work is work well. While there is very little bloodshed, there is still plenty to appeal to horror fans. The spooky atmosphere and the fear of the unknown really play on the audience’s nerves and the end result is a fun summer film that isn’t meant to be taken too seriously but is sure to give you a good fright.

I would absolutely suggest checking out The Gallows when it hits theaters tomorrow. Don’t expect too much and don’t be too critical and you will very likely be pleasantly surprised.

WICKED RATING:  [usr 6]

Director(s): Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing
Writer(s): Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing
Stars: Cassidy Gifford, Pfeifer Brown, and Ryan Shoos
Release: July 10, 2015
Studio/ Production Co: Blumhouse, Warner Brothers
Budget: (Initial) $15,000
Language: English
Length: 81 Minutes
Sub-Genre: Found Footage

  • Serpenthrope

    One thing I really loved about this movie: The characters were actually happy. It seems to be a really common trend in recent horror, Blumhouse especially, to have all the characters act depressed the whole film. It works sometimes, but it was a nice change of pace here.

  • Really enjoyed this one. So relieved I’m not the only one! Most recent movie I’ve watched through my fingers for the most part…