School Spirit: “The Gallows” (2015) Review


Twenty years ago, the Beatrice high drama club put on a production of “The Gallows”. During a malfunction with the gallows itself, the lead in play, Charlie, is killed by hanging. Now, on the anniversary of the production, “The Gallows” is being revived. But the drama club has their own superstitions about the auditorium and the high school itself following Charlie’s death. This time, ex-jock Reese (Reese Mishler) is playing the lead role in order to win over drama geek Pfeifer (Pfeifer Brown). But in the process, Reese is realizing the humiliation at stake by doing this. Under the advice of his best friend Ryan (Ryan Shoos), the two, along with Ryan’s cheerleader girlfriend Cassidy (Cassidy Gifford) break into their school and begin to destroy the set in hopes of canceling the show. It is then that they run into Pfeifer and the four become trapped in the school and discover that the legend of Charlie may be true.

The Gallows is another entry in the horror found-footage genre. But this time it’s adding slasher into the mix. The trailers made it look like it could do a decent to fine job with it. Unfriended with the first example to use this, while I didn’t care for that film overall, it did well with mixing the two. The Gallows gives us very stereotypical characters; the sensitive jock, the douchebag jock, the good girl, and the bitchy girlfriend. While this is fine and dandy, it is taken too far to where it intolerable. Even the characters we are supposed to like are horrendous and you don’t care about them at all. The jock and his girlfriend are givens, but the lead male is way too much of a whimp and the good girl is way too cheerful and innocent. The actors themselves, while not amazing by any means, do fine with their roles despite a few bumps throughout.

As for the story, the story is one of the aspects that really held it together. I admit I’m a huge sucker for urban legend stories and this one did not disappoint, it used this legend well and it could remind you of any urban legend you may hear on a college campus or high school about something happening in an old building. Along with this they used the setting perfectly with school, it gave it the perfect atmosphere and lighting as well as sound. The sound is enough to leave you wondering if it’s just the building itself or if it’s Charlie. In terms of the slasher aspect it was decent. We have each of the teens getting off, all by the means of a hangman’s masked Charlie with his noose. Charlie himself is very creepy and by far has the best moments of the film (especially one that gives a slight nod to a scene from Halloween). Although I wish they wouldn’t have gone back and forth from making him invisible, to not. With the found footage, it really didn’t work with this film. The movie overall would have been much better had it been a standard format film, adding a chilling score to the mix could definitely added to it a lot in making it scary. In its short running time and small cast, we get little to work with (worse that they were unlikable). If they had done it in regular format, a few more people should have been added to make it a better slasher story.

Overall, The Gallows isn’t horrible, but it isn’t everything I was hoping for. It has an excellent story, a great killer with semi decent deaths, solid atmosphere/setting, and a great use of sound and lighting. However, the characters, the found-footage aspect itself most especially, keep it from being a damn good supernatural-slasher film.

–Cody Landman