When I was in high school, some classmates of mine got in trouble for vandalizing the school gym over the weekend. Did they have a supernatural adventure too? We’ll never know. They never documented it with found footage.
The kids in The Gallows did though. Man, oh man, did they film their exploits breaking into school. In The Gallows, their plan is to trash the set of the school play. The kids in my school were breaking in to play basketball in the gym. To be fair, how else were they going to play basketball? We didn’t have the technology for some sort of outdoor basketball net when I was in high school.
The Gallows has a pretty good opener at a school play. I love legitimate theater! What happens is so sick, mostly because you can imagine the circumstances that led to it happening before an audience of parents. 20 years later, the drama department decides to put on the same play. Reese (Reese Mishler) is a jock doing the play to get close to drama queen Pfeifer (Pfeifer Brown).
Ryan (Ryan Shoos) is responsible for the rest of the footage that was found in The Gallows. He instigates Reese to trash the set so he doesn’t have to perform (as if they won’t still do the play black box theater style). He also continues to prove my theory that douchebags are the heroes of found footage movies. I’ve only seen one found footage movie that didn’t need a douchebag insisting they keep filming. That was The Hunted, because it was about outdoorsman making a TV pilot, and making reasonable decisions about what should be filmed. Ryan fits the usual narcissistic douchebag who thinks everything he’s doing is worth documenting. To be fair, it’s also clear that he’s an insecure teenager but it still follows the douchebag rule. He just cannot shut up.
So most of The Gallows is shot with one camera light, or green night vision. By the time they reach the point where even Ryan would stop filming, I guess they’re still using the camera for the light, although they wouldn’t need to keep rolling for the light to work. I’ll give them that maybe they’re so scared at that point that they don’t even notice they’re still rolling. One piece of dialogue is dubbed over shots of legs and feet, because even Ryan is no longer interested in pointing the camera, though still doesn’t bother to turn it off.
The scares are typical paranormal activity. Things move that aren’t supposed to, or appear. Ryan, Reese and their cohort Cassidy (Cassidy Gifford) get locked in along with Pfeifer after she catches the trio. The ghost shows them hints of character reveals we mostly figured out long before the quartet does. There’s a lot of sound of creaking ropes for atmosphere.
I’ve definitely seen worse, but I’ve seen better too. At least no one pulls a Blair Witch anymore. They actually have a real ending. The cast is good. I believe they are scared, I believe Reese has feelings for Pfeifer and I believe Ryan is a douchebag. I hope Shoos knows I’m celebrating his magnificence. It’s a lot of fake scares with loud bangs, but as many earned jumps too. The story would lend itself just as well to a 3rd person film with coverage, but would have cost a lot more and in the end probably achieved the same effect.
Rating – Netflix