Gallows Hill aka The Dammed (2013)
Directed by: Víctor García
Written by: Richard D'Ovidio
Starring: Carolina Guerra, Gustavo Angarita, Juan Pablo Gamboa, Julieta Salazar, Nathalia Ramos, Peter Faninelli, Sebastian Martinez, Sophia Myules
What is it all about?
Following a car accident in a torrential downpour, a family takes refuge in a nearby, rundown inn. Shocked to discover the innkeeper has locked a young girl in the basement they confront him and ignoring his warnings set her free. They could never have imagined the terrifying chain of events that would follow.
Gallows Hill or as it was once called The Dammed, has taken four long years to reach the UK, so you could say that when I sat down to watch this, I wasn’t expecting anything great from it. Usually when a film sits on a shelve for that long, its mostly because its crap beyond words, but to be honest, I got quite a lot out of this part slasher/part body swap horror. It may not offer anything new to the genre, but for a straight to DVD offering, it pretty much gives you what you want for a Saturday night rental.
For one thing, it teaches you, if you suffer a car accident and stumble upon an old deserted hotel with a creepy old man telling you to leave his property and he can’t let you in, then move on. Don’t insist and beg and when he kindly lets you in, but tells you not to move from the living room, then listen to him! Don’t go walking around each room, because you may not like what you discover.
This is exactly what happens to David (Peter Facinelli), his fiancee Lauren (Sophia Myles), his teenage daughter Jill (Nathalia Ramos), aunt Gina (Carolina Guerra) and Jill’s boyfriend Ramon (Sebastian Martinez) who after suffering a car crash (by rudely ignoring the advice of a cop, not to travel further), the gang find themselves stranded in the middle of nowhere in Columbia, outside a place that screams “Do Not Approach!”.
But this is a horror film and its a must that its characters do the most stupid things, so when they go looking through the place and come across the pleas of a young girl Ana Maria (Julieta Salazar), trapped in a basement, then the most horror veteran of a viewer will instantly know that this will not end well. For a start, there is no sign of a simple lock keeping her inside. She is virtually trapped in the room and to be fair to the daughter Jill she even says the right things like “This does not make sense………..how did he feed her?……….why was she locked in like that?”……. I do like it when someone in a horror movie says the right things even though the advice is totally ignored by the rest.
As you can guess, the old man (Gustavo Angarita) was right all along and was only trying to save them. By letting her out of that room, this is not a normal little girl needing help, she is in fact a witch, who has the power to jump into the body that kills her. This is where the fun part of the movie come into play as by trying to save themselves, they have to fight against each other, even though when the body leaping starts to happen, I must admit and say the film lost a bit of the scare factor as the little girl was so damn good and creepy, its a shame the film just didn’t have her running amok. I mean, when was the last time you saw a good killer child movie?
Director Victor Garcia totally redeems himself after the quite horrific Hellraiser: Revelations. For what is basically a cheaply made horror movie, the film looks great and the direction and acting rises above most straight to DVD offerings. There is a much needed slow build up before the carnage that shows great restrain by Garcia and when the blood starts to pour, its more than enough to keep the gore-hounds happy.
Why has it taken so long for a release? Maybe because the film really doesn’t offer anything new. There are no surprises from start to finish, even the climax which offers up a nice twisted dark finale is something you have seen countless times before. But while that may come across as a negative, to be fair, Gallows Hill is a perfect Saturday night horror that will service the need when there really is nothing else to watch.
It may make the teen crowd sit up happily with interest, but for the most experienced of horror fans, you will sigh, you will tut and realise once the credits have rolled, that what you have just watched is a serviceable genre entry that in a few have hours you will have instantly forgotten…….