THE GALLOWS REVIEW

The Gallows English Horror Movie Poster

The producers should hang their head in shame.

Ba-dum-tsssh! A lazy punch line for a lazy horror film!

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 honour the anniversary of the tragedy BUT soon discover that some things are better left alone.

Another found footage film haunts the cinema. Well for a week. Luckily. I think I’m going to give up on modern horror films. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Hollywood, just STOP. Horror fans STOP paying to see these films.

Thank God, I had a cinema pass. If I had paid a tenner for the last few horror films, I would be livid. The fact these new found footage horror films are getting increasingly low budget with any old amateur cast shows the desperation that Hollywood are resorting to. Getting a quick buck with cheap frights.

They are churned out so quickly and cliche ridden that you can almost tick everything off a check list. Predictable, dull and infuriating. No real tension, memorable ghoul or a decent character that you actually give two monkeys about.

It seemed like writers Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing just wrote a loose premise around the Charlie phenomenon (If you can call it a phenomenon) that stormed the Internet a few months ago. The little cheap scares did do the job. I’m not going to lie. There were moments where I actually winced as the shaky POV crept down a hallway or round a corner.

Silently waiting for our hooded figure to make his long overdue appearance. The only problem was that you really were left waiting. BUT the end result was the same old bloody thing.

The characters even use their real first names. If that doesn’t highlight the originality of the script or the lifeless protagonists then I don’t know what does?! This film was supposed to be 81 minutes. It felt a whole lot longer than that.

After a reasonably macabre opening sequence, the half hour that followed was just mindless cliched teen high school melodrama. Credit where it’s due. Ryan Shoos (Pretty Little Liars) who played the main camera guy did his best to keep things entertaining.

It drew the odd giggle BUT this is a horror film for God’s sake! I may not have been impressed with the overhyped It Follows but at least that knew how to create tension and an atmosphere. Instead we had insufferable waffle about the star quarterback trying to get with the theatre nerd. Awww . . . Yuck.

Pfeifer Brown played the theatre nerd well but her character was so cliched. I had no time for her. Secretly praying for Charlie every passing minute. Cassidy Gilford was certainly a stunner to look at BUT all she did was scream, cry or look into the camera to check out how good she looked. Come on!

Reese Mishler. If I could give an award for the best “Have I left the iron on?” expression, he would win hands down. His blank looks and hang dog expressions were hilarious. Unfortunately he wasn’t strong enough to play the lead but it didn’t help that his character was so weakly written in the first place.

Hyped up as the next horror icon of the new generation, I found Charlie the Hangman pretty tame. He certainly looked the part. A tall domineering cloaked hangman BUT the next Freddy or Jason?! BEHAVE!

Inevitably, he didn’t really make an appearance until the final 15 minutes and when he did; the film finally got going. BUT leaving us with mindless chatter, tension-less build up and a quick fright to stop you fidgeting for a crazy finale just isn’t enough!

The finale was frantic and had the odd scare. There was even a feeble attempt at a twist. BUT this twist (If you could call it that) was so predictable that I was more surprised that they even bothered.

The camera work was probably the truly horrific part. It felt like I was watching my dad handle the camera after having a few pints. I was getting a headache watching it. Every time something creepy did happen, the camera was on the floor. Plenty of snaps of Pfeifer’s feet. Not of flippin’ Charlie. Oh, I give up!

I can feel myself growing tired of endlessly critiquing these sort of films. Only for more of them to pop up and not even try to do anything differently. As long as people rush into see them, the producers will still make the money before anyone realises what a pile of rubbish they really are. I mean Unfriended, the Poltergeist remake, Knock Knock? Is that really the best that we can come up with?

Predictable, lazy, the odd fright reprieves this disorienting ham-flick for a brief moment. BUT still not enough to be haunting your local cinema.

1.5/5

INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3 REVIEW

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Spook me once, shame on you. Spook me twice, shame on me. Spook me thr- If you can do that, then you’re doing something right.

They still got it! The third (Well, first) installment of the relentless Insidious franchise haunts the silver screen yet again. And let’s just say, I wasn’t screaming for my money back.

A prequel set before the haunting of the Lambert family that reveals how gifted psychic Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) reluctantly agrees to use her ability to contact the dead in order to help a teenage girl (Stefanie Scott) who has been targeted by a dangerous supernatural entity.

If you had asked if there were any decent horror films about these days? Insidious and The Conjuring would have probably been the only examples my brain could muster. Okay maybe Paranormal Activity (The original and the third at a push).

I went in to the first Insidious expecting nothing after so many demonic duds and was rewarded with nail biting tension, jumps, a story and characters I actually gave two monkeys about. Understandably it fared well. Bringing back the old school haunted house horror genre with a bang!

I liked how writer/director Leigh Whannell put a fresh spin on the whole thing by incorporating the idea of the paranormal dimensions and The Further. It really stood out for me even when the scares may have been a little lacklustre. Inevitably a sequel was soon green-lit and a franchise was born.

I won’t spoil too much for those who haven’t seen the other films or Annabelle (The less we say about that, the better. The only disappointment of Whannell’s creepy collection). If anything, this would probably be the best one to start with.

Recurring characters and little references may spoil the experience a little but you can fill the blanks quite easily. BUT the opening of Insidious 3 didn’t really get things going and I could feel my hopes wading fast. NOT even the opening score that used to scare the living daylights out of me did anything. It seemed like someone had forgot to turn the volume on. Normally, I dread the opening titles. Can’t remember. Let’s remind you . . .

A weak Lin Shaye performing a reading with Scott’s peppy acting student was cliched and slow. Not a great start. We had to watch minutes tick by as Scott spoke about her family and the recent passing of her mother. It was all by the book and predictable.

The broken family dynamic with Delmot Mulroney’s dreary (No seriously. Was he on something?) dad unable to cope was unintentionally comical. Scott’s flirty exchanges with the boy next door. Sigh. Boring. Thankfully Whannell didn’t bother focusing on that love angle at all. A relief.

BUT then strange things began to happen. Weird figures waving (No seriously. What was the deal with the waving?) Disappearing and reappearing. AND out of nowhere. BAM! One nasty accident. The film found it’s form. And I was an anxious mess.

Before I knew it, the jumps flew in thick and fast. The tension and suspense may have been predictable but it still got my heart racing. The sly hand across face to wipe hair that wasn’t there. Just in case something lashed out from under the bed or something.

Scott played the role well and managed to make a memorable turn. It was just a shame that her character was so cliched and when she had the leg cast, there wasn’t much she could do. If anything, this wasn’t really her story.

It was the story of one of my favourite characters in the franchise, Lin Shaye’s medium Elise Rainier. As soon as she appeared in the first Insidious, I was intrigued. A well written character that had an interesting and mysterious back story.

Whannell finally shows us that very back story that the previous two merely hinted at. He also creates a new creepy demon to give people sleepless nights with The Man Who Couldn’t Breathe (Michael Reid MacKay). The demon that has taken a shine to Scott’s Quinn.

Despite a slumbering start, Insidious Chapter 3 did something that other horror films have failed to do. Keep me interested. It was tense, suspenseful and creepy. You could argue the build up was predictable. The figures in the curtains. The faint little voices. The OTT and incredibly loud movie score making you tremble if the scare didn’t.

BUT believe me there were a quite few scares that got me. Normally I can sit there and deliver a countdown before a jumpy bit emerges. Not this time. It’s good when you fear that all the best bits have been flogged in the trailer. Only to be proved wrong in the first 30 minutes.

For Insidious fans, we finally understand Rainier’s reluctance to help the Lambert family from the earlier films (No, get this right. Later films). If anything, you have more respect for her. Either that or you’ll think she’s even more bonkers for venturing into the Further again.

Tom Fitzpatrick’s The Bride in Black makes a very unwelcome return. Only because the b*stard kept making me jump. No seriously, he made me jump twice doing the exact same thing. And be warned a certain Darth Maul looking like demon does make a surprise appearance.

The only problem with The Bride in Black was that the more he appeared, the funnier it got. An encounter with Rainier should have a pivotal moment but it came off like something out of A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child. I would show the clip BUT the horror, the horror!

And of course, we get to see how Rainier got together with Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson). Their presence did lighten things up but didn’t spoil anything. To be honest, the film was strong enough without them but it was nice for Whannell to make everything come full circle.

The pace may have been patchy. The opening a little slow. More could have been made from Rainier’s past. BUT once it got going, I was one happy horror fan. And I felt the film got stronger like it’s demented host as it drew to it’s frantic (and slightly corny) close. I actually preferred this outing to Insidious Chapter 2.

And you know what? I can’t wait for another spooky encounter.

3/5

THE QUIET ONES REVIEW

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The Quite . . . Rubbish Ones, really. A real shame, a rebooted Hammer brings us a jumpy, if tragically predictable and disappointing affair.

With the inevitable tag line, “Based on actual events”, we follow an Oxford University professor and a team of students in the 1970s as they conduct an experiment on a young girl who is believed to be possessed with a demonic force. I had so much hope for this. To be honest, horror films of late have hit an all time low, in every aspect, but the main one being scares.  I was relieved (how wrong I was) when I heard this little demon was created by the producers of the Woman in Black. A genuine suspenseful film that told a story and had scares. I mean it wasn’t that scary but the tension and performances were fantastic.

I hoped with the charismatic Jared Harris (Mad Men) at the helm of this low budget British horror, there could be something but alas it was not to be. It’s not a complete write off. I felt Sam Claflin (Hunger Games: Catching Fire) was a very likeable lead as our conflicted hero. Olivia Cooke (you may remember her from the inaccurate but surprisingly watchable hit, Bates Motel) was fantastic as the vulnerable victim. You do actually care what happens to the pair. The opening half hour builds up the suspense and sets the premise quite well. The unexpected jump here and there kept me on my toes. It made me for watchable viewing. You felt for Cooke’s character as she is interrogated like a Guantanamo Bay victim; forced to stay awake with the endless droning of Slade. I mean, come on it’s bad enough at Christmas.

The sultry Erin Richards with her diva-ish antics is easy on the eyes but nothing else. In terms of story, there isn’t much of one and when plot points are revealed, it’s quite obvious and uninteresting, most notably *FLASH! SPOILER ALERT! SKIP PAST PARAGRAPH IF INTERESTED IN VIEWING* on the reveal of a former patient’s identity. All the build up and flicking back was merely a device to spew up some much needed scares. Where the pace went along quite well, it meandered by the hour marker. Harris is entertaining, if incredibly creepy as his intent to disclaim the supernatural pushes him to the brink. It inevitably occurs in one creepy house. It was nice to see the film try and recreate the old school horror but that is soon thrown out of the window in one scene as we get a handheld camera sequence. Really? I mean, okay, Claflin is carrying a big arse camera but the effect still reeks of Paranormal Activity. Come on, we’ve had a franchise of that. BE DIFFERENT!

There’s enough tension to get the cheeky nibble on your nails or excuse to look at your mate to see if they’re scared, while waiting for impending jump moment. However, it all builds up to the same old guff with the expected, but still makes you bloody jump, last second scare. Once it’s all done, you sit back and think it wasn’t that scary. Not going to be dashing in the house and flicking on lights. It’s been done to death time and time again. Need a break altogether from this genre. Wait for us to miss these or . . . learn from them and make something much better because I know we can. Come on. 2.5/5 for me.

Currently ranks #120 out of 162!