Twenty years ago Charlie Grimille lost his life during a school play due to a horrible accident. Now on this anniversary the school has decided to honor his memory by remounting the exact same play that took his life. This is the background for The Gallows (2015) a found footage film that takes play in the world of live theatre as depicted by high school students. Reese (Reese Mishler) is the star of the school play “The Gallows” but unfortunately he’s not a very good actor and instead of making a complete fool of himself on opening night he is talked into sabotaging the set by his friends (Ryan Shoos, Pfeifer Brown, and Cassidy Gifford). They decide to break into the school the night before opening night to make sure that the play will not be able to open. After destroying the set they soon realize that they are trapped in the school with a malevolent force that may be the vengeful spirit of Charlie Grimille out for his revenge.
Written & directed by Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing this is actually a smarter film than you may think. This could have easily become your run of the mill found footage slasher film but Cluff and Lofing create a genuine mystery surrounding Charlie Grimille’s original death and how it relates to current times and everyone involved. The film not only relies on your traditional jump scares but there is a lot of atmosphere and dread milked out of the stage theatre setting which makes it another character in the film.
It is a shame that the found footage genre has found its way on the “outs” with horror fans as there are still several good ones being produced (despite the fact that there are three times more horrible ones). This is one that while using the conventions of the style has something to say and does an excellent job in execution.