R | 81min | 2015 | (USA) | Travis Cluff , Chris Lofing
Synopsis: Twenty years after a tragic accident during a high school play the students try to pay respects by resurrecting the play. This time Charlie returns to finish business and steal the show.
Review: This one leaves audiences swinging limp in the wind.
The pros: Although the film is written by two men, it comes across quite female centered.
I find the weapon of choice to be quite interesting. I am not typically a subscriber to psychoanalytic theory when it comes to horror films. However, it is quite rare for the killer to use a weapon that is not categorically phallic. In fact the noose is everything opposite of phallic. It is a receptacle that encompasses and takes control over that which enters it. This brings me to my next point.
There is a certain air about the film which suggests women are in control. For starters, the girls in this film are both more favorable and memorable than the males. (Perhaps it is attributed to their acting skills also far surpassing the males.) Reese is a passive, indecisive, follower and his fellow friend Ryan is an obnoxious, self-centered, jerk. Conversely the girls in the film are beautiful, articulate, outspoken in their own rights, and clearly in control. Cassidy insists she be included with the boys when they plot to sabotage the play. When Ryan says no, it takes a mere look from Cassidy for her to get her way. Once in the school, she appears to chastise the ineffective males when she takes control over destroying the set. Likewise, she is the only one who has the wherewithal to want to leave when things start to get bad. Throughout the film the audience sees the control that Pfeifer has. While she and Reese are not together, his being smitten with her got him into this mess in the first place. By sheer ratio, the executioners noose encircles the necks of more males than females. Despite the fact that the executioner is male, I suggest that he has other motivations. Without giving away spoilers, the film suggests that women have power over men.
The cons: The shooting of the film was all wrong. Arguably the first person camera point of view worked for other movies. It doesn’t work here. I suppose this was an attempt to seem modern in a world of self-absorbed camera toting teens that film everything. Unfortunately, it feels more like a Blair Witch Project (1999) rip off. I was convinced when I saw Cassidy grab the camera and start sniveling into the lens in the following familiar shot:
The Gallows similarly relied on the environment to build up tension. The school served as their woods. It was a labyrinth of doors, sounds, and darkness. There is only one upside that The Gallows had on Blair Witch…there wasn’t half the pre-film buildup, so it wasn’t such a letdown.
Unfortunately the film was plagued by a series of problems. Subpar acting, Blair Witch rip offs, and I seriously couldn’t get past the idea that any school would commemorate the accidental public hanging of a student.