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Chris Lofing and Travis Cluff
Ryan Shoos, Reese Mishler, Cassidy Gifford, Pfeifer Brown
Writing Credits:
Chris Lofing and Travis Cluff

20 years after a horrific accident during a small town school play, students at the school resurrect the failed show in a misguided attempt to honor the anniversary of the tragedy - but soon discover that some things are better left alone

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$10,015,000 on 2,720 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
English Descriptive Audio
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Latin Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Latin Spanish
Supplements Subtitles:
Latin Spanish

Runtime: 81 min.
Price: $44.95
Release Date: 10/13/2015

The Gallows Original Version
• “Surviving the Noose” Featurette
• “Charlie: Every School Has Its Spirit” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• Gag Reel
• Trailers
• DVD Copy


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


The Gallows [Blu-Ray] (2015)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 13, 2015)

I doubt any movie genre proves as consistently profitable as horror. Today’s example: 2015’s The Gallows. I realize that its $22 million US gross looks like a pimple compared to the huge box office bucks earned by flicks like Jurassic World and Avengers: Age of Ultron, but those flicks also cost a ton of money to shoot.

By contrast, The Gallows came with a budget of only $100,000 – or about the same amount of money spent of Bryce Dallas Howard’s ubiquitous high heels in Jurassic World. The latter pulled in a whole lot more money total, of course, but in terms of return on investment, The Gallows turned an enormous profit.

In 1993, Beatrice High School student Charlie Grimille (Jesse Cross) accidentally dies during a stage play called The Gallows. 20 years later, the staff and students think a new version of the play would act as a way to commemorate and move past the tragedy. This doesn’t go well, as mysterious – and potentially supernatural – events cause havoc.

Shot mainly from the perspective of jock/videographer Ryan Shoos (Ryan Shoos), Gallows wholeheartedly embraces the “found footage” genre. I admit I’m surprised this format continues to prosper, as I would’ve thought it would’ve run its course a good 10 years ago.

But audiences still embrace “found footage” flicks to a degree. Nothing has threatened the box office dominance of 1999’s Blair Witch Project, the film that popularized the format, but the continual iterations of Paranormal Activity tales shows there’s life in the style.

While I’ve enjoyed a handful of “found footage” flicks – especially 2008’s Cloverfield - I think most of these works use the format as nothing more than an excuse for lazy filmmaking. These movies can come with poor acting, cheap sets and flawed photography, all to seem “real”. Sometimes it works, but usually it just seems like the filmmakers lacked the discipline and imagination for something better executed.

The rambling, ambling Gallows falls into this category. It starts from an iffy premise – a 20th anniversary stage show to commemorate a death? – and goes nowhere from there.

It doesn’t help that Gallows focuses on unlikable characters. It concentrates on jerky Ryan, his jock pal Reese (Reese Mishler) and Ryan’s girlfriend Cassidy (Cassidy Gifford). They’re wholly off-putting personalities, so we don’t enjoy our 80 minutes with them.

Even with more enjoyable/sympathetic characters, Gallows would falter because it simply lacks much meat. It offers a loose framework for a horror flick but fails to flesh out its themes or plot particularly well.

Instead, it simply relies on scary movie tropes, with the usual array of “boo moments” and random spooky elements. None of these appear especially creative or effective.

A general sense of amateurishness pervades the project. Granted, the “found footage” format semi-excuses some of those, as the film’s not intended to look professional.

Still, the absence of good acting talent or storytelling ability harms the movie – though not as much as the tale’s general lack of purpose or directionality. Gallows hints at narrative elements but does nothing to embrace them. Do we know anything about the characters beyond stereotypical notions? No. Do we learn much about the background to events/roles beyond the basics? No.

Do we ever give half a hoot about anything that happens here? Also no. The film evolves as little more than a collection of scenes in which characters cry, gasp and shriek – and also try to paste over obvious plot holes.

If The Gallows ever became scary or even moderately creepy, I’d forgive these sins. God knows I’ve overlooked gaping movie flaws in other films - if the end result entertained me.

But The Gallows doesn’t succeed in that regard. Trite, paper-thin and ultimately pointless, the movie acts as a poor example of both the horror and "found footage” genres.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B-/ Audio C+/ Bonus B

The Gallows appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. “Found footage” movies can look a bit dodgy, but Gallows offered mostly good visuals.

The weakest aspects of the image related to blacks and shadows. Dark material seemed a bit inky, and low-light shots came across as a little more opaque than I’d expect. These weren’t substantial issues, but they became minor distractions.

Sharpness seemed largely positive. Despite a fair amount of “on the fly” focus and some iffy sources, the movie usually came across as accurate and well-defined. Ups and downs came along for the ride, but a lot of the movie seemed fine. No issues with moiré effects or jagged edges occurred, and I didn’t see edge haloes.

Print flaws weren’t a factor, as the movie looked clean. In terms of colors, Gallows favored blue/green; some orange and yellows also occurred, but the teal feel dominated. While those choices seemed tedious, the Blu-ray replicated the hues appropriately. Ultimately, this was a good transfer.

Not much pizzazz came from the film’s Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack of The Gallows. Like many “found footage” films, this one violated its own reality so it could use all five channels. A movie shot on consumer video should be stereo at best, but Gallows broadened its horizons to the rear channels as well – and it included a subdued score, which also wouldn’t make sense in the “found footage” universe.

If we ignore the unreality of these choices, the soundscape seemed pretty good. The mix didn’t go crazy, so it stayed mostly with general atmosphere. A few spooky moments featured the side and rear channels more actively, but the majority of the track remained environmental in nature.

Audio quality was fine. Despite the “on the fly” nature, speech seemed acceptably concise and natural, and effects demonstrated nice clarity and range. The score was subdued but seemed well-rendered. This wasn’t an impressive track, but it worked in a positive manner.

When we shift to extras, the main attraction comes from The Gallows: The Original Version. After a 58-second introduction from writers/directors Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing, we see their “guerrilla-style” first attempt at the film.

The “original version” runs one hour, 19 minutes and 54 seconds. How does it differ from the theatrical edition? For the most part, the two seem very similar – and often virtually identical. Many shots/scenes are pretty much clones of each orher.

That said, differences occur. We get a better framework for the story in the “original version”, and its makes superior chronological choices as well. The “original version” separates events by 25 years, not the 20 years in the theatrical edition. For character-related reasons, that makes more sense.

The “guerilla” nature of the project also allows the “original version” to seem more “real”. The theatrical edition simply tries too hard to be “cinematic”, like the filmmakers felt they had to gussy up the project for big screen. For instance, the “original version” lacks music, which allows it to suit the “found footage” format better.

Other small improvements occur. Even though it uses largely the same cast, the acting in the “original version” feels less forced, and the story flows more naturally. The characters are much less annoying – especially Ryan and his girlfriend – so we actually care what happens to the participants. Plot holes still exist, but they seem less egregious.

All of this allows the “original version” to become a moderately satisfying experience. It doesn’t turn The Gallows into a great film, but it definitely works a lot better than the theatrical edition.

Two featurettes follow. Surviving the Noose runs 17 minutes, 20 seconds and offers notes from Cluff, Lofing and producer Jason Blum. We learn how Cluff and Lofing got into movies and how they came together as a filmmaking partnership as well as the origins, development and creation of Gallows. Tight and informative, “Noose” tells us a ton about the subject matter – indeed, it’s so good that it makes me wish the disc came with a commentary, as I’d like to hear more from the filmmakers.

Next comes the nine-minute, 44-second Charlie: Every School Has Its Spirit. In this, we hear from Cluff, Lofing, producer Dean Schnider, sound designer Brandon Jones, and actors Reese Mishler, Cassidy Gifford, Pfeifer Brown, and Ryan Shoos. We get some story/character notes as well as shoot specifics, audio, and spooky experiences during the production. This becomes another fun and useful piece. Deleted Scenes run a total of 18 minutes, 17 seconds. These tend to be insubstantial elements, without anything I’d call memorable. Some alternate views add a little spice but the clips remain mostly forgettable.

A Gag Reel lasts seven minutes, 45 seconds. It shows typical goofs and giggles.

Finally, we get three trailers. We see a “concept trailer” (2:42) as well as an “original version trailer” (2:48) and a theatrical trailer (1:38).

A second disc offers a DVD copy of The Gallows. It features the “Spirit” featurette as well as the gag reel and 11 of the 12 deleted scenes. (It drops one from “The Original Version”.)

Some “found footage” films use the format in an effective manner, but The Gallows fails in that regard. Slow, annoying and tedious, the movie lacks any obvious positives. The Blu-ray presents acceptable picture and audio as well as a collection of bonus materials highlighted by a fairly effective alternate “original” version of the film. The Gallows fails to entertain or scare.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 3
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