"Ghostly, Ghastly Revenge Tale"
What You Need To Know:
THE GALLOWS is cheap looking, poorly filmed, badly acted, and not that scary. Parts of the story don’t make sense, and the characters are ill defined. Worse, THE GALLOWS has a very strong, abhorrent occult worldview with a revenge plot, plus a significant amount of foul language. In fact, evil wins out in the end, even against some police officers who show up to investigate things. THE GALLOWS is an embarrassment and a disaster on every level.
(OOO, LLL, VV, MMM) Very strong occult worldview promoting revenge, about the ghost of a murder victim who, with support from his former girlfriend and her daughter, kills some teenagers restaging the play where he was killed 20 years before, and even, apparently, kills police who show up when the new murders occur; 21 obscenities (including one “f” word), two GDs and five light profanities; strong, somewhat scary but largely bloodless violence (much of it unseen or hard to see because this is a “found footage” movie) includes teenage boy apparently hanged as his body flies up to school auditorium ceiling, girl has an unseen force try to strangle her, bruise on girl’s neck from this turns into a nasty oozing infection, girl is dragged away by an unseen force followed by a crashing sound indicating she’s been killed, grainy footage from 20 years before shows a boy actor falling through a gallows platform and accidentally getting hanged, police thrown against walls and about to be choked; a lewd gesture implying oral sex is made as a joke; naturalistic upper male nudity; no alcohol; no smoking or drugs; and very strong miscellaneous immorality includes revenge plot throughout movie, boy bullies a nerdy boy, and breaking and entering.
THE GALLOWS is one of the dumbest, most simple-minded horror movies ever put into theaters by a major studio, about the ghost of a murder victim and his former girlfriend getting revenge 20 years later on the school where he died and three students. THE GALLOWS is poorly made and has a strong, abhorrent occult worldview, with a strong revenge theme and plenty of foul language.
The threadbare story is told via “Found footage,” in which the police department of Beatrice, Nebraska somehow has a videotape found in an investigation. The movie opens with footage from 1993 of a school play called “The Gallows,” set during the Puritan era, where a student is supposed to fake being hanged but, due to a mishap, actually died.
Twenty years later, the school is inexplicably restaging the play as a tribute to the dead student – an idea that’s so dumb it defies any sense of logic. It is an insult to the viewers’ intelligence to have the audience believe any school or theater would restage a play where someone actually died, just to pay tribute to them. The bad publicity and impossible insurance rates would nip the idea in the butt long before the play ever hit the stage.
Never mind logic, the school football quarterback Reese has to do double duty as the lead male in the play. He catches flack from the football players for doing something wimpy and from his theater peers for being a bad actor. Reese has a crush on the lead actress Pfeiffer, and his best friend, Ryan, is a goofball whose camera is filming everything viewers see.
Ryan convinces Reese to sneak in through a broken door in the school theater and tear the set down the night before the play opening, thereby giving him the chance not to do the play. Ryan’s dimwit girlfriend, Cassidy, a cheerleader, comes along and, thus, the rest of the movie takes place in the theater’s shadowy corridors and stage.
Literally the last hour of the 81minute movie consists of the four teenagers running around screaming and looking scared, as the dead student’s ghost from 20 years before comes looking for them. Hardly a moment of this is scary, the characters are barely defined, and it’s impossible to care what happens to them.
The violence is strangely muted for an R-rated movie. While this would normally be commendable by MOVIEGUIDE®’s biblical standards, how a movie sold as a horror movie can have almost no scares is ridiculous. The blurry camerawork means that one dead body flies up in the air in a distant haze, the second dead one gets pulled back fast by an unseen spirit by a noose and slammed into a wall offscreen, and the final death is a hanging shot from a distant angle. There’s nothing suspenseful about any of this.
THE GALLOWS is cheap looking, poorly filmed, badly acted, and not that scary. Worse, it has a very strong, abhorrent occult worldview with a revenge plot, plus a significant amount of foul language. In fact, evil wins out in the end, even against some police officers who show up to investigate. THE GALLOWS is an embarrassment and a disaster on every level.