DIR/WRI: Travis Cluff, Chris Lofing • PRO: Jason Blum, Travis Cluff, Benjamin Forkner, Chris Lofing, Dean Schnider • DOP: Edd Lukas • ED: Chris Lofing DES: Stephanie Hass • MUS: Zach Lemmon • CAST: Cassidy Gifford, Pfeifer Brown, Ryan Shoos
Guys, it’s been 16 years since The Blair Witch Project. It’s time to let the found-footage horror genre go. Exhibit A: The Gallows. Unimaginative as it is harebrained, the film fails at every level to inject any real fear (or enjoyment) into the minds of its audience.
The plot revolves around a high school production of a play called ’The Gallows’ which, when premiered in the same auditorium twenty years earlier, ended in disaster when a student accidentally hanged himself on the prop noose. Ever since, the school has been haunted. Despite these eerie apparitions, and completely foregoing any sensitivity towards the dead student’s loved ones, the school’s theatre troupe eagerly plan a revival of the play to mark the tragedy’s anniversary. However the production’s leading man Reese (played by…Reese), a former footballer turned ‘theatre nerd’, remains apprehensive. Not because he is worried about angering lingering spirits though, but because he’s a crappy actor- drawing inspiration from his real-life counterpart no doubt.
The cast is rounded out by Ryan, an intensely annoying jock stereotype through whose camera lens we witness most of the action; Cassidy, a vapid and forgettable hot chick stereotype; and Pfiefer, the drama-nerd stereotype and object of Reese’s secret affections. What Cluff and Lofing were hoping to gain by giving the characters the same names as their actors remains unclear- I’m going to put it down to laziness. Thinking of names is hard. Despite his crush on his leading lady, Reese’s anxiety gets the better of him and he agrees to break into the school at night with his friends to sabotage the play’s set. Because filming yourself committing a crime makes sense. No sooner than some props are capsized, however, supernatural antics ensue.
Nothing about this film works: the camerawork is amateurish, the acting is stilted, the characters underdeveloped, the editing looks like it was done by a blind monkey, and as for the plot – the plot makes no damn sense. Every possible cliché of the genre is crammed into the films 87 minutes and dilutes any potential tension to nil. It is clear that no effort was put into the making of The Gallows, right down to its basic concept. Neither clever nor interesting, this is a film that deserves a wide berth.
15A (See IFCO for details)