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

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UNFRIENDED REVIEW

unfriended-poster

I’ll unfriend anyone who liked this film.

A little harsh. Some might say. But you know you’re onto a loser when everyone in the cinema is laughing. Uninspiring, unattractive and uninteresting.

As soon as the crackly Universal logo started buffering across the screen, I feared the worst.

So what’s this tripe about? A group of online chat room friends find themselves haunted by a mysterious, supernatural force using the account of their dead friend.

We see everything through the POV of Shelley Hennig’s character Blaire and the webcams of her friends. An intriguing concept, I’ll admit. That was if we wasn’t watching a teenage girl nosing around on a Mac.

The creepy YouTube video of her high school friend committing suicide certainly caught my attention and it was clever how the Facebook posts and clips filled in everything we needed to know. A malicious prank (That felt like something out of the Inbetweeners) inevitably triggers an online bullying campaign by trolls.

The notion of cyber-bullying is something that needs to be addressed but this film merely uses it as a lazy ploy for a vindictive cyber-demon.

What infuriated me was the lack in pace. Bearing in mind we are seeing a teenage girl, fully active in the social media age and adapted to the relentless technological gadgetry; she was incredibly slow at moving her mouse around. It was like watching my 80 year old aunt slowly clicking on each tab, killing any suspense or tension that the film failed to build up.

Hennig and Moses Storm were such a vomit inducing couple. Using Skype to waste screen time and bore me with cheesy, cliched dialogue that did little to make me feel anything for them. Also an online foreplay sequence involving a knife definitely set the wrong tone for its teen audience and came off unfunny and questionable.

I was praying for the troll or demon thing to make an appearance after ten minutes of listening to them whining about making Prom Night THE night and messing around with their blasted Spotify playlists.

And then the Skype chat begins and I wish I walked out. The cast were terrible. Let me rephrase. The characters were terrible. Irritating, obnoxious, deluded and stupid! As soon as Jacob Wysocki bellowed through the tinny speakers, “I can see your chodies” with his face stuffed full of Cheetos, I knew I was done.

The mindless chatter and desperate attempts to fuse any tension between the characters was futile. The flicking back and forth between the Skype chats and private Facebook chats was well done. It was just a shame that the conversations were so bland.

However, as soon as the anonymous Skype member joined in and Blaire started receiving messages from her dead BFF, my interest was finally piqued.

It was slow burning and I don’t mind that if there is a big pay off. A moment of ingenuity, suspense, shock! I had to remember that they are teenagers and some of their decisions may have been stupid but not too similar to the majority of teens out there that would do the same thing.

And some of the more logical steps they do try. Deleting said dead friend off Facebook. I didn’t know how to do that. Not remove dead friends obviously. Reporting forums. Virus software if a troll has managed to get onto your server. So I will commend where credit is due.

BUT the bickering. The yelling. It gave me a headache. It’s not long before secrets are leaked out on Facebook. The ridiculous demon forums with their silly chain letters. My teacher spoke to a demon last night and woke up dead. Perrrrleeeassseee.

Will Peltz played the douchebag Adam well but his actions and volatile behaviour were comical. Grabbing a gun from his desk and threatening an online cyber troll through a webcam was stupid. What made it worse was that the dodgy stuff hadn’t even happened yet. This was 30 minutes in when ANONYMOUS asked to play a game.

When things inevitably take a turn for the worst, there were little pockets of tension but little scares. The rule of the game being: YOU LOG OUT. YOU DIE. YOU DON’T PLAY THE GAME. YOU DIE. You get the picture. A scene in which one of the users is “punished” was just plain messed up. It surprised me. The one and only time. I thought to myself, “Okay. Going for the Saw angle. I’ll go with this”. Hand. Blender. Woah. That’s all I’m saying.

BUT alas after that little shocker, we have more squealing, more yelling and more rubbish. The game was actually not that bad. BUT the little conversations away from the Skype chat soon bored me again. Blaire still believes that it is a joke set up by her BF after two messed up deaths? Come on. She keeps typing to him in a private chat and doesn’t even look at the Skype chat window to see he is not typing and completely freaking out.

Then we have the shocking confessions as the friends turn against each other. The inevitable “Who leaked the video?” that caused so-and-so’s death? The reveal being utterly predictable and disappointing. And what do you know? They weren’t such good friends after all.

After failing to deliver scares, it went for plain stupidity. Using Chat Roulette to call for help. Seriously? Lordy lord. It got the biggest laugh out of the film. Now if this was a comedy, it would have been great. BUT in a film that promised Paranormal Activity meets Cyberbully, it was devastating. A girl in tears asking two stoners to call the police because her friend is being killed by something she doesn’t know. Unbelievable.

If you want a nail biting, tension setting thriller that deals with the true horror of online cyber bullying, please watch the superior Channel 4 drama Cyberbully with Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones. It was also brought to my attention by fellow blogger MOVIEBLORT that Unfriended stole the premise of a smaller (and better) horror film, The Den. That’s the most shocking twist of it all.

http://movieblort.com/2014/04/23/96-the-den-2014-a-young-woman-studying-the/

The finale finally got going as me and my friends were getting ready to go. I thought maybe we will break out of the POV when the demon appears? Oh for a only brief – TRANSMISSION ENDED.

AVOID!

1/5