Hopefully you’re not reading this on a lunch break, because this is going to take a while. I’m kind of amazed that someone thought this plot was good enough to make it into a full length movie. The whole thing feels like a teen version of one of the cheesy Goosebumps episodes. But, let’s start with the preview and marketing campaign. I remember seeing the preview for this in the spring of last year. I wasn’t blown away, but I knew I would probably go and see it just to support independent horror. Then the makers just had to make a stupid move, and decided it was best to include the Charlie Charlie challenge in one of the previews. Naturally, I then refused to pay to see this. For those that manage to avoid news of the latest internet crazes (please teach me your ways), the Charlie Charlie challenge is basically a Mexican Quija board, where the movement of a pencil signifies demonic activity. Most of us just call that gravity, but whatever.
News of this “dangerous teen challenge” absolutely took over the internet for a few hours back in 2015, and everyone and their mother uploaded their own videos of them completing the challenge. And some people are still legitimately terrified by this. No, seriously. And now we’ve reached the first glaring problem with The Gallows: if you have to piggyback on the latest internet craze to promote your movie, you already know it sucks. I still believe that if you even have to use viral marketing, you know your movie isn’t strong enough on its own. The Charlie Charlie challenge was chosen simply because the “ghost” in the movie is freaking named Charlie. That’s it. Moving on before I give myself an aneurysm…
This is basically the film school project version of The Blair Witch Project, with elements of every other found footage film that has been released in the last 10 years. In case you haven’t already guessed, creativity is not this movie’s strong suit. Don’t believe me? Check out the names of the characters, as well as the actors that play them:
I don’t know what’s more insulting: the mere changing of last names for characters in the movie, or the sheer laziness of not even bothering to change Ryan Shoos’ name in any capacity. What about the actual plot and acting, you may be asking? Take a guess at how well this all plays out. Our 4 highly unlikable characters get locked in their school, all because the father of one of them backed out of a play 20 years ago, and his understudy got killed during a high school play. Want to know how much time it takes for good ole Charlie to get his revenge? About 4 minutes, during the last 10 minutes of the movie. I would also prefer to not relive the unnecessary and quite confusing Shyamalan-like twist at the end.
Is it possible to give a rating of less than 0? That’s what I want to give to The Gallows. This is 87 minutes I won’t get back, and frankly I’m pissed. You can see where scenes and ideas where blatantly stolen from better movies, and there’s zero passion behind any of this. It’s also another case of casting ridiculously good looking adults as teens, instead of picking actual teens or even average looking adults in order to make a pissed off theater kid ghost movie believable. And of course, there’s the whole “we’re stuck, so let’s stab each other in the back” trope. The last 30 minutes are nothing but shaky cam and screaming. But…what do you expect from a movie that wasn’t even creative enough to create its own viral marking campaign? If you want to see found footage done right…let me know when you find a movie that actually does that well. I’m not sitting through another one of these any time soon.