Thursday, January 7, 2016
THE GALLOWS (2015)
Written & Directed By: Travis Cluff & Chris Lofing
Cinematography By: Edd Lukas
Editor: Chris Lofing
Cast: Reese Mishler, Pfeifer Brown, Ryan Shoos, Cassidy Gifford
Twenty years after an accident during a small town high school play results in death, students at the school resurrect the failed stage production in a misguided attempt to honor the anniversary of the tragedy - but ultimately find out that some things are better left alone.
A movie where none of the characters are particularly like able so that you cannot wait for them to be picked off to a degree as they never make themselves have you feel sorry for them
The legend of the spirit haunting the play feels like a place holder as his revenge seems more misdirected and cruel for what was see essentially an accident
This could have been a straight forward horror film, but like this production. it seems to want to bathe itself in several cliches like this film was a group investment put together to cash in on a craze rather then tell a story. As it has a few false scares and plenty of moments where the camera just roams and roams in night vision. Then seems to remember something should happen. Which brings the audience joy as it is closest to action we have seen since. Unfortunately they are mostly fake scares. That end up being nothing so that it feels like a cheap trick.
Once the supernatural does strike it is usually to try and harm or kill them. Which he seems to do by hanging. So there kids keep getting invisibly strung up with deep scars on their necks yet are able to speak fine and act as if it is only a minor bruise.
The early scenes of the high school never approach being believable as it seems like the cast is trying to hard to seem like typical teenagers. They come off more as character types rather then actual characters.
This film seems aimed at and beholden to teenagers as it is PG-13 and keeps close to that rating as there is never a fowl Word out of these teenagers and the language seems just to clean. The same with the behavior. Though it is not above having Kathie Lee Gifford's daughter constantly sweating and in the shortest tightest outfit and have the camera linger on her cleavage a bunch of towns noticeably in times of terror. Which seems more to a lesser degree exploitive.
The film feel endless and it is under 90 minutes. This feels uninspired and just lazy. It feels like the film version of the high school play they are presenting with the cheesy acting and production.
The only time the film comes alive is actually during the last 2 minutes of the film. I can see the filmmakers believing that maybe the build up to that scene was worth it. sadly it isn't
Just as the characters actions throughout make no sense and just seem there to set up victims. Not that there are many to be had. Then once any sense of violence occurs the camera pans away and we instead see the aftermath. There is actually only one scene in which we see actual violence other then the ending.
It's a shame as this film whole could have never been good but could have been a decent teen horror film. If it didn't feel by the numbers and like it was talking down to it's audience.
The film was independently funded and produced before being picked up and distributed by Warner Bros. As Most of the film's budget came from people who had never invested in a film before and were local friends of the film-makers in Central California.
To help induce a real sense of fear in their cast members that would translate into their performances, Cluff and Lofing cast actors out of Los Angeles who knew nothing of the Fresno, California, locations where they'd be shooting, many of which are said to be haunted. Additionally, the directors only revealed the script to the talent little by little over the course of production, and also shared photos, newspaper articles and websites with them that referenced the story of Charlie Grimille and related incidents that had happened subsequent to his death.
Despite paying homage to the specific sub-genre of 70's giallo slasher films and even standing as a slasher film itself the film deviates by containing very small quantities of blood and or gore in the film, the only cases of actual gore and blood in the film being the very minute droplets and linings of David The Janitor's blood in the maintenance crawlspace area entered by Ryan, The scalds, boils and cuts on the left portion of Cassidy's neck after her violent neck grab by an invisible Charlie/The Hangman's hand, the blink and you miss it thin geyser of blood spray from Ryan's neck snap, The close up of Ryan's body's face complete with blood at the sides of his lips from the neck snap, throat from the neck snap and small blood lines on his discolored face. Also in the ending the last on-screen death, the second Ross house officer flung by Charlie against the hallway wall and dragged upwards let's a small blood spray go from the back of his head as he is violently hurled against the wall.
In the original Gallows which was completed in 2012 and sold to Warner Bros, New Line and Blumhouse for distribution the film concludes with Pfeifer's interrogation with the officer's in which discussing the deaths at the school the janitor's corpse is actually pulled down from the storage room.
Usually in a movie there is a character or characters who are like able or identifiable for an audience even if not. The audience should not mind spending time with or following them. So that we care somewhat about their fate in the film or story. If not there is no investment of any kind for the audience. Who will be indifferent to the events and activities. So that no one will care about any of the actions or characters fates. It's like how many people don't care about the cow going into the slaughter to help make their ground beef or hamburger. Sure there is some initial care, but out of sight. Out of mind. Especially if you never see how it is made. Though for some that is entertainment enough. The making of the meat.