The Damned (aka Gallows Hill)

The Damned (aka Gallows Hill), from director Victor Garcia, retells the classic tale of a bunch of idiots getting themselves stranded in the worst way possible. In this case, it’s a house in the middle of Nowhere, Columbia, and a bunch of Americans, a local TV personality, and a camera one stranded after a comically sudden and malicious storm causes them to crash their car. And then it turns out there’s a ghost in the basement of the house they take shelter in. Because, of course.

This movie literally takes 3 minutes just to actually start. There’s this ten-second or so tease at the beginning with pointless voiceover and a single shot of a guy with his back against a door rattling from some unseen force. And then, credits, credits, and more credits.

Technically, it takes about 13 minutes to start. Because that’s when the crash happens. The rest of those 13 minutes is credits and a whole lotta nothing that’s supposed to be something to make you care about these flat, lifeless characters and their wholly contrived and seemingly random scenario. Why are we in Columbia? Why does it matter one of them is a TV personality? Why would a father come all the way to Columbia to get his daughter when she’s perfectly safe with her aunt, as she’s supposed to?

So many questions and zero answers.

One character, at one point, insists she knows what broken ribs feel like because she’s a nurse. And yet, there she is, not acting or talking at all like someone with two broken ribs. Because fuck acting, fuck character work, fuck any semblance of giving a shit, I guess.

It takes over 20 minutes for anything of interest to happen. Even more time is necessary before the movie actually becomes something remotely worth watching. And then it just sort of plays out as you’d expect with a telegraphed, prolonged climax and resolution.

There’s no reason to watch this movie. For as decent as it looks and sounds at any given moment (the effects, the makeup, and even set design), for as good as the cast legitimately is,The Damned doesn’t ever really give you a reason to look its way or care about any of it. You’ve seen this movie before. You’ve seen it done better. And you’ve seen it in movies that cared to make good use of your time. And that’s more than enough reasons to avoid chilling with The Damned.

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