A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Gallows Act II is the sequel to the 2015 horror movie The Gallows. This one doesn't use the same "found footage" gimmick, but it does rely heavily on jump scares, loud noises, and not-very-smart characters; it's mostly familiar old clichés. Violent/disturbing images include characters hanged by the neck and choking, a dog killed and hung from a tree, things flying across the room, ghosts and monsters, some blood, and bullying. Minimal language includes uses of "s--t" and "damn." Teens kiss passionately but are interrupted. A teen girl is obsessed with her YouTube views and subscribers, and the YouTube interface is shown frequently. In a way, the movie is a warning against doing dangerous things just to gain social media followers, but that message is pretty indirect.
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What's the story?
In THE GALLOWS ACT II, hopeful acting student Auna Rue (Ema Horvath) starts attending Fellbrook High School, where her Broadway star idols once went. She botches her first class reading but still attracts the attention of handsome Cade Parker (Chris Milligan). Later, Auna gets a message on her floundering YouTube channel encouraging her to do a "Charlie Challenge" (summoning an evil spirit) using the old play The Gallows. She does, and -- thanks to a spooky occurrence in her video -- her channel takes off. Her romance with Cade also takes off, and her readings from the play in class make her an instant star. But something isn't right, and strange things begin to happen. As Auna attempts to put The Gallows out of her life, it becomes apparent that there's only one way to end the terror.
Is it any good?
Marginally better than its found-footage predecessor, which isn't saying much, this horror sequel still falls prey to the usual clichés, from cheap jump scares to not-very-smart characters. The Gallows was a clumsy jumble that was hamstrung both by weak characters and a weak premise. But it was a hit, so co-writers/directors Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing are back with The Gallows Act II. This time, they ditch the found-footage style and focus on a more likable character in Auna, but although she's sweet, she's still annoyingly naive. Her behavior is always bent in service to the plot, rather than to her character.
As a scary movie, this one's a dud. Almost all of the bloodless frights are jump scares, and many of them are false, all accompanied by loud, percussive noises on the soundtrack. It's the equivalent of someone jumping out and yelling "Boo!" Moreover, the few non-jump scares are also ruined by an overuse of music. Even the overall plot isn't very interesting. Whatever malevolent spirit is in charge of tormenting people with the old play isn't much of a presence here; the events feel almost random. In the end, the unsatisfying The Gallows Act II will leave most horror fans feeling like they're at the end of their rope.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about The Gallows Act II's violence. Does the fact that it's largely bloodless affect its impact? How do the filmmakers achieve the movie's biggest scares?
How scary is the movie? What's the appeal of horror movies?
How does the sequel compare to the original?
This movie is mainly about the dangers of curiosity. Have you ever been curious about something and then later regretted it? When is it good to be curious?
- In theaters: October 25, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: December 24, 2019
- Cast: Ema Horvath, Chris Milligan, Brittany Falardeau
- Directors: Travis Cluff, Chris Lofing
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 99 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: some disturbing violent content
- Last updated: January 14, 2020
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