So, we have the basic set up, here. Three good looking girls, go to the middle of the woods, dared by their sorority, one is pious, they find a Ouija board, and the excrement hits the fan. Here’s a lesson to all you blonde white sorority girls, if you ever go to a cabin in the middle of the woods, never play with any satanic devices be it a Ouija board, book of spells, or the “Gigli” DVD. Never! And if you’re going to, at least bring me along to cut the lesbian-esque tension. So, for a rare entry, we’re given… this? Another direct-to-video worthy film about the ill effects of playing with a Ouija board? A whole eighty minutes about insanity and how it can turn you—well—insane? Thanks, but really, I’ll look elsewhere. But for “The Gallows Tree” we’re exposed to the basic gist of horror clichés, and there be plenty here.
Forest, check. Cabin, check. Catty girls, check. And there’s even your basic argument here and there. And there are also your unresolved plot lines, such as was Heather lesbian or not? What’s the challenge in putting three girls in a cabin in the middle of the woods for a frat? And was there a need for the excruciatingly drawn out dance sequence that lasted well near six minutes? Our main character Lisa is taken to the woods by two potential pledges and they’re sent to rough it in a luxurious cabin, and talk, and drink, and argue, and talk, and drink, and… you get the idea. Suffice it to say it takes a very good long while for anything remotely horrific to happen, and when it does its considerably light weight and never what we expect.
I’d have had no problem with the immense padding that went on, were it actually engrossing or interesting, but the script accomplishes nothing. It throws back and forth plot themes and devices that never make the three lead characters any more appealing, and then we’re left wondering what it is we’d just seen. The performances do end up competent enough but when the emotion hits high it becomes laughable, take for example the scene where Lisa finally loses it. Rhe direction from Brisette is stilted with no nuance, or atmosphere, which is helped by the choppy editing and a plot that is never quite clear what to make of itself, so what intends to be a thriller, ends as a melodrama with a suspenseful twist. Instead of giving us what we want, it only dances around the concept with zero pay off.