US Release Date: 7/10/15
When first time directors Chris Lofing and Travis Cluff shot The Gallows, their pet indie horror pic, they wanted their cast to really feel the fear.
After all, their characters, a group of high school students, were being terrorised by a vengeful and vicious spirit – a good enough reason to demand nothing short of realistic and authentic performances from the ensemble.
That’s why all actors were told very little about the supposedly haunted shooting locations and, for that matter, the storyline itself. Plot points were revealed a little at a time.
In a further twist – aimed at keeping things nice and genuine – everyone in front of the camera was required to use their real first name as character names. Such a strategy was previously adopted in 1997’s The Blair Witch Project, the “grandfather” of “found footage” movies, and 2007’s Paranormal Activity.
Therefore, Reese Mishler plays Reese Houser, Pfeifer Brown portrays Pfeifer Ross, Cassidy Gifford becomes Cassidy Spilker and Ryan Shoos, keeping both names, stars as Ryan Shoos.
“The fact that Chris and Travis decided to use the actors’ names as their character names was a very smart, simple idea that spoke to how they approached the entire movie, which is grounded and as raw and authentic as possible,” says producer Dean Schnider.
Scripted by Lofing and Cluff, this story concerns the death of high school student Charlie Grimille back in 1993. Charlie, it turns out, was starring in the school performance of a play called The Gallows when he accidentally died by noose right in front of the audience. Now, twenty-years later, the school play is about to be revived in a big way.
On the eve of its revival, a group of students sneaks into the auditorium for a lark. However, things don’t turn out so funny when the group becomes mysteriously locked inside. Also, the kids’ cell phones suddenly stop working, and so they have no way to call out for help. Charlie, it seems, is back, and he’s not a happy camper.
Cluff initially came up with the idea, and worked with Lofing to develop it further. Then they shot a promo trailer, posted the promo online and eventually caught the attention of Schnider. He, in turn, shared it with Jason Blum – the producer of the Paranormal Activity franchise, as well as titles such as Whiplash and the recently released Unfriended.
‘The Gallows’ is really the first movie we’ve done since ‘Paranormal Activity’ that has the same DNA—that homemade ‘I can do that’ look, which, to be honest, few people really can do,” Blum remarks. “We must see about a thousand attempts a year, but ‘The Gallows,’ was unique in that not only did they do it themselves, but it worked.”
Aside from its strong spooky slant, the story, says Mishler, will allow current and former high school students to connect with the characters.
“We’ve all been to high school, we’ve all been part of this clique or that one or into sports or drama. So, you’re already empathizing with a lot of what these kids go through and their emotions at that age. Then when things start to get really awful, you’ll feel like you’re right there with them, which makes the scary stuff even more terrifying.”
Meanwhile, Gifford grew up loving horror pics, but says it was especially challenging to shoot one.
“Being on set, doing night shoots, surrounded by a very small cast and crew, was actually pretty scary at times. Because the production was kept so small, a lot of the time we were alone in a random, dark hallway with nothing going on. We would hear things, we would see things, and it all made it seem very real. I won’t lie – I was definitely freaked out more than once.”
Studio: New Line Cinema presents, a Blumhouse/Entertainment 360/Tremendum Pictures production
Director: Chris Lofing and Travis Cluff
Stars: Pfeifer Brown portrays Pfeifer Ross, Cassidy Gifford becomes Cassidy Spilker and Ryan Shoos
Screenwriters: Chris Lofing and Travis Cluff
Producers: Dean Schnider, Benjamin Forkner, Chris Lofing and Travis Cluff
Executive Producers: Dave Neustadter, Walter Hamada and Couper Samuelson
Quote Source: Press Notes
Image Info: Copyright: © 2015 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.
Caption: CASSIDY GIFFORD as Cassidy Spilker in New Line Cinema’s horror film “THE GALLOWS,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.