Nothing is more terrifying than being behind the stage at a dark theater. Some of the scariest movies used theater as a backdrop for their terror, Dead Silence being the most recent one that comes to mind. There is something off-putting about the scaffolding that, even as a demon, gives me the creepiest feeling that someone is watching me just outside my vision. This being said The Gallows is another movie set in the stage theater setting, a high school theater to be specific.
The film revolves around a school play called The Gallows, as the title of the film would suggest. The big baddie in this film is a murdered kid who acted in the play years ago and for some reason the new generation of teens need to make this play happen again. Even here in Hell PTA’s would never let that happen. Yes, we have PTA’s here, how else would us demons learn what true evil is? The killer is a ghost that only manifests itself sometimes on camera. And, since this film is as found footage as it gets, we see him frequently. This entire gimmick is better done in V/H/S, which if you have not seen I highly suggest!
Slowly the teens die in various ways from being pulled up in the rafters by a rope to….well actually that is the only way they seem to die. I am not going to say a hangman-style killer is all that creative, but let’s look at the tools we have to make this scary.
1. Rope – Rope, while not inherently terrifying, can be used in terrifying ways. The one I am thinking of is when they used rope to quarter people in the ol’ times! One could easily set up this scenario in a theater!
2. Leather Hang Man’s Mask- They discover this prop early on and it is kind of the creepiest thing the film has to offer. Would it have been so hard to lead the characters into finding out it was made from human flesh?
3. Theater Scaffolding – I mentioned this earlier, but using it as a tool for scaring people seems so basic. Perhaps that is why they missed it. At the very least they could have had someone fall off it.
All said and done, at the very least they are in a school. Even with things directly related to the theater, there are tons of interesting ways to scare people in a school. But alas, even when they do venture into the school they decide to add a secondary addition non-school spooky area to induce scares. This move is a testament to the lack of creativity we see from some movies coming out.
The movie is rife with problems from a seemingly incoherent plot to bad writing, the movie just comes off as trying too hard to scare and then failing. When we reviewed It Follows, we said that it would have been great if you had seen it on Netflix. I would say the same thing about this movie except I don’t even think it is creative enough to merit a Netflix view. So much like many of the movies I pass over on my queue, I will state that no one ever needs to watch this film. If you want a creepy killer that only manifests itself on film, go watch V/H/S or Sinister but pass on The Gallows.