The Gallows

Archetypal teen horror fails to thrill

THE GALLOWS (Travis Cluff, Chris Lofing). 81 minutes. Opens Friday (July 10). Rating: N

Don’t expect many thrills from hanging around The Gallows. It’s a horror movie whose climax brought derisive laughter from the preview audience.

Once more we’re in the played-out realm of found footage, where two eerie moments fail to compensate for the clichéd loud noises and incoherent visuals.

Bad things happen to four teens, three of them intent on mischief, who sneak into their high school on the eve of the school play’s opening night. Twenty years earlier, at the debut of the same play, a malfunctioning prop – the titular gallows – caused the death of a student.

The cast – Reese Mishler, the jock who’s only in the play because he’s hot for the drama student (Pfeifer Brown), his jerk buddy (Ryan Shoos) and buddy’s cheerleader girlfriend (Cassidy Gifford) – emote with enthusiasm, and their characters are well defined, but none of it matters. These kids are pure monster fodder, and character is as irrelevant to the story as the story is to the on-screen events.

At the outset you’re encouraged to wonder whether you’re being set up for a malignant ghost or a vengeance-crazed maniac. If either of those ideas, or the tease itself, turns your crank, stay home and download either 2012’s The Woman In Black or 2009’s My Bloody Valentine. Big scares in both, with stories and characters that draw you in and propel the action.

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