Movie Review: ‘THE GALLOWS’ Puts the nail On Found Footage Films


Cole Clay // Film Critic

THE GALLOWS | 81 min | R
Director: Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing
Cast: Reese Mishler, Pfeifer Brown, Ryan Shoos and Cassidy Gifford

Found footage films can work and quite well I might add. The scale can range from blockbuster (CLOVERFIELD) to personal (THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT/PARANORMAL ACTIVITY). It’s a cheap and easily marketable conceit that has been proven to put asses in seats, which has made producers like Jason Blum (INSIDIOUS) a powerful Hollywood player over the years.

I’ve responded quite well to this conceit time and time again, forking over my precious dollars to see this gimmicky tales of terror, but sometimes it goes terrible wrong. Case in point, this weeks’ movie of the week, THE GALLOWS.

Taking place 2o years after a freak accident, a high school is left forever scorned by the on-stage death of a student. A group of students and a boneheaded teacher attempt to resurrect the show, but an act of reverence turns deadly by a supernatural force when a few break into the school on the eve of the anniversary.

Photo Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.

Directing team Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing understand the tropes of what makes a found footage movie, but a little help from a visual team would have greatly benefited the film on nearly every level. The majority of the film takes place in a dark high school theater and it would have proved to be useful Cluff and Lofing would have given the audience a sense of the space, but the shaky cam becomes a confusing device that does the audience zero favors when the plethora of jump scares quickly turn into yawns by the time the film’s lofty run time of 80 minutes comes to a conclusion.

This is yet another found footage movie that lack ingenuity and pretends to have a grasp on how teenagers behave. Not to mention the cast of young adults does the material zero favors, except for the ironically hilarious performance by Cassidy Gifford (yes, Kathie Lee Gifford).

If there’s any silver lining here with THE GALLOWS, teenage audience members will have a place to go make out this weekend.

THE GALLOWS opens today.

About author

James C. Clay

James Cole Clay has been working as a film critic for the better part of a decade covering new releases, blu ray reviews and the occasional drive-in cult classic. His writing is dedicated to discovering social politics through diverse voices, primarily focusing on Women In Film and LGBTQ cinema.