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Gallows, The

81 minutes
horror, mystery, thriller

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This entry created 24 May 2023. Last revised on 24 May 2023.

341 hits since 25 May 2023
©1994-2024 Bill Armintrout
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Gallows, The

Rating: gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star no star no star no star no star no star (5.00)

This is one of those 'found footage'-style horror films.

First, you see a brief 'police evidence' tape from a generation ago, of a tragedy during a high school play when a prop gallows malfunctions, resulting in the death of one of the student actors.

Skip forward a generation, and now you're watching video by theater class member Ryan (Ryan Shoos), who is documenting the project as the high school once again puts on the ill-fated play as a memorial to the student who died. Ryan is an unsympathetic character who dislikes the play and his fellow students.

Ryan's girlfriend is Cassidy (Cassidy Gifford, daughter of Kathie Lee Gifford), a blonde mostly looking for trouble.

Ryan is also friends with Reese (Reese Mishler), the student starring in the play. Although a football player, Reese has a sensitive, hesitating personality. His motivation for being in the play is his infatuation with his co-star, Pfieffer (Pfeifer Brown), who is driven to make this play a success.

Always looking to cause problems, Ryan convinces Reese that he's a terrible actor, and that the only way to prevent the school play from being a disaster is to break into school after hours and trash the scenery and props.

So Ryan, Cassidy and Reese use an unlocked door to enter the school at night… when strange things start happening, and the exit is now locked!

The movie at first is primarily Ryan's video footage, but eventually mixes in videos taken by other characters' phones, and police body cams. Is the school haunted? Was the hanging really an accident? Are school alumni, parents of the new generation, somehow implicated?

The 'found footage' technique is used well here, providing a claustrophobic experience with sudden surprises. Special effects are few but well done. The suspense takes a long time to build, with the audience given several possible explanations as events unfold. Cassidy Gifford gives a good performance in a minor role.

There's no nudity or sex, not a lot of blood, but brief moments of violence, including broken limbs and hangings. Warning: If depictions of suicide bother you, do not watch this movie.

Can you wargame it? The plot is essentially a 'dungeoncrawl' through the school, including basement and attic, so the concept could be repurposed with some effort and added combat encounters.

I found the characters annoying and the action slow, but the double-ending is rather cool.

Note that the movie did well enough to warrant a sequel.