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  • Writer's pictureMartyn Wakefield


Dir. Travis Cluff, Chris Lofing

Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield

The found footage trope may have been well received in 1999 with the granddaddy of the genre but it’s real resurgence was with 2007’s PARANORMAL ACTIVITY. Managing the scare the living bejesus out of Steven Spielberg it quickly garnered a reputation and was picked up and released by Jason Blum, the rest is history. Now Blumhouse return to the hand held with high school spookfest, THE GALLOWS.

Where THE GALLOWS holds itself above it’s found footage counterparts is in it’s grounded realism and unpredictable turn of events. When high school jockey enrols in the cursed school play for the sake of a crush with the lead, a last ditch attempt to get her affection turns into a night that will see a dark side to the play haunt him and his friends until their bitter end.

Capturing a sense of claustrophobia throughout, as the teens try and escaped the locked school, the haunting tragedy that put the play on hiatus may still be around.

There may be a lot that’s been seen here before but THE GALLOWS delivers on its promise to be a nerve shredding ride through to the unpredictably open end. The awkward chemistry between Reese Mishler and Pfeifer is only rivalled by the humour envisioned onscreen by couple Ryan Shoos and Cassidy Spiker. There’s certainly a lot of credit to be given to the cast as much of the films turns are taken off screen.

As their company slowly reduces, the mystery unravels a connection to the fate of one of the original stars in the play and for those who repeat his name, may forever rest in vain. And even though promotional material shares this as a slasher of kinds, there is a much cleverer tale at play here that deserves to be seen.

This is your typical found footage that captures the best of the genre accompanied by the looming score of doom that will be familiar to anyone who’s seen the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY franchise (and who hasn’t!). Yet in all of it’s viewing is a satisfying addition to the genre that does what many fail to do by providing a good old fashioned scare and serving up a refreshing twist that is worth a place in the trophy cabinet with the likes of FRIDAY THE 13TH and HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME.

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