The Gallows Act II follows Auna Rue (Ema Horvath, The Mortuary Collection) and her dreamy boyfriend Cade Parker (Chris Milligan of TV’s Arrow) who attempt to unravel the mystery of Charlie Grimille. Auna is getting a fresh start at a prestigious high school with a fantastic acting program whose alumni include two of Auna’s idols. While trying to hone her skills as an actress in school, Auna spends her free time cultivating a following on YouTube. A random fan of Auna’s work sends her a private message one day, asking if she has ever heard of the Charlie Challenge. This fictional challenge requires people to film themselves reading the soliloquies from the stage play The Gallows in order to invoke spooky things on camera. Needless to say, Auna takes the suggestion, which sets off a series of unpleasant events.
While viewing The Gallows Act II I was genuinely excited to see how this film would continue the events of the original, a feature I really enjoyed. The cast of insufferable teenagers was thoroughly entertaining and by the time The Gallows revealed itself to be a story of revenge I was rather impressed. So, I was expecting a similar energy from this film. However, that was not the case. Despite the fact that Auna Rue is a is generally likable and relatable character, her reactions are a bit muted when it comes to the paranormal. After the initial Charlie Challenge videos, Auna starts having adverse reactions to her haunting, but before that she seems less than concerned that a lamp was thrown at her. She gasps and then quickly moves on. I think most people would refuse to sleep in that room or at least throw the book away having experienced such a phenomenon.
However, despite Auna’s obliviousness to scary encounters and some minor complaints with the plot, the biggest issue in my opinion is Charlie himself (the hangman who haunts Auna and others). While this film is not about revenge, it instead shifts itself to being a stalker, monster movie, but these types of movies only work if there are rules. For instance, while Jason Voorhees is a ruthless killer, he is terrified of water, thus this can be used against him. Michael Myers (Halloween), although seemingly invincible, never does more than walk, so any running or getting into a car can assist you in evading him. You get my point, monsters have limits even if they are terrifying, but good monsters also have purpose. Charlie the hangman of The Gallows Act II has neither and it comes across as silly.
For instance, I am still not sure what even summons Charlie and why. The movie presents that people who read The Gallows summon him and thus deserve the torture endured, but Auna didn’t find her copy in some back room of the bookstore or get it from a shady character. She got her copy from the public library. So, does this mean that Charlie haunts everyone who reads his book? What if a theater teacher assigned this clearly publicly available work of fiction, does that mean Charlie haunts all of them? I have many questions about Charlie as a character and monster. Again, the first film made Charlie’s purpose and existence abundantly clear, but I found myself lost when watching The Gallows Act II.
If you are in the mood for a jump scare riddled, cheesy horror movie, The Gallows II is your jam. But, if you were a fan of The Gallows I would skip the sequel as it does not possess the magic of the first film.
WICKED RATING: 4/10
Director(s): Travis Cluff, Chris Lofing
Writer(s): Chris Lofing, Travis Cluff
Stars: Ema Horvath, Chris Milligan, Brittany Falardeau
Release: October 25th in select theaters and On DemandStudio/ Production Co: Blumhouse Productions, New Line Cinema, Tremendum Pictures
Length: 99 min
Sub-Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller