A college prank that turns out to be a night of horror canned on a hand-held camera is what forms the premise of "The Gallows", which intends to be promising.
However, the writer-director duo Chris Lofing and Travis Cluff fail to put their heads together to make it a wholesome entertaining treat. They have, in fact, taken the found-footage-horror-thriller genre so seriously, that in actuality, this film turns out to be cheap, inconclusive and gimmicky.
The film starts off with the footage of a recording of October 29, 1993, a property of the Police Department of Beatrice, Nebraska. It is the recording of a college play, "The Gallows", where during the performance, the lead actor Charlie Grimille dies in a freak accident on stage.
Ever since, the theatre has been haunted. Twenty two years later, the school inexplicably revives the play. Pfeifer, who plays the female lead, is very keen about the show. Reese, a footballer is roped in to play Charlie Grimille's role, while his friend Ryan, records the proceedings of the play.
Realising that Reese is not a good performer, Ryan suggests that Reese makes an excuse to back off and thereby save his face as a bad actor. Because he has soft corner for Pfeifer, whom he does not want to upset, Reese hesitates initially, but instead agrees to Ryan's plan of destroying the set on the night before the show.
Cassidy, Ryan's girlfriend tags along. While the trio are having a gala time destroying the set, Pfeifer, after seeing Reese's car parked in the theatre complex, comes in to check as to why he is there at that unearthly hour.
What occurs then are a series of paranormal activities followed by a revelation and a few deaths captured on grainy frames of the hand-held camera. While this camera treatment is thrilling initially, over a period of time the excitement wears off and the viewing experience turns from tedious to irritating.
Expectedly, there is an amateurish feel to the editing too which mars the viewing experience, proving to be a kill joy.
The actors have very little to do in terms of performance. The anticipation, the fear and the anxiety of the cast, are completely missing since much of the fear factor is created by the sound and lights effects off screen.
The narration starts off at a slow pace for the first half hour, but gathers momentum after Pfeifer comes checking on the trio. Yet, the hurriedly wrapped up denouement further confuses the viewer.
Furthermore, devoid of any real scary moments, this poorly crafted film coming from the stable of the Jason Blum, producer of the Oscar winning "Whiplash', is disappointing and bound to make the audience feel short-changed.