When Auna Rue (Ema Horvath) transfers to a prestigious new acting school, she encounters a malevolent spirit after participating in a viral challenge.
Chris Lofing and Travis Cluff’s 2015 feature The Gallows was one that was met with a wave of negative reviews from the critics and audiences were not too keen on it either. I was among one of the many people that thought it was a cheap cash-grab with an extremely messy story, and riddled with jump scares.
However, I thought that the concept was genuinely amazing and I was so disappointed that they really did not do anything with it. The whole idea of the movie was brilliant, and with a much better script, The Gallows could have been a horrifying and disturbing motion picture that lingered with viewers long after their initial watch.
It is strange that this 2019 follow-up, The Gallows Act II, has practically no marketing campaign whatsoever. It is not like the original film did not make money, because it did. With a budget of $100,000, the movie managed to earn an incredibly impressive $43 million at the box office.
The marketing campaign this time around was practically nonexistent, with only one poster being released and the first official trailer was only released one month ago, which is surprising considering the fact this sequel is being released this Friday. It is interesting to note though that this film is being released in theatres as well as on demand on the same day.
Sadly, it is extremely easy to see why this film is going straight to demand on that day, because that is exactly what The Gallows Act II feels like – a straight to demand movie that you watch once with your friends and never want to watch again.
Just like the predecessor, this movie has jumpscares that happen way too much, and they are never scary. The concept of a jumpscare itself is not something scary, but rather startling. When you get startled, it is usually because of something happening sudden, in front of your face, or maybe you hear something really loud all of a sudden.
Getting genuinely scared is a completely different feeling. Truly scary horror movies earn their scares by building tension and all of the horrifying scenes we watch unfold are scary because, a lot of the time, they feel like they could actually happen. For example, in 2018’s Hereditary, we quite literally watch the entire family fall apart due to the film’s horrific events that happen around them, and it is terrifying to watch.
This movie’s idea of scaring its audience is having a character suddenly appear in frame numerous times, and a whole plethora of “false” jumpscares. These jumpscares would not be as bad, if the jump scare was something that could actually threaten the protagonist. But they are never anything to be afraid of. Something falling off of a countertop or something along those lines is a really annoying false jumpscare.
In addition, The Gallows Act II‘s biggest issue is without a doubt its script. Not too much happens in this picture surprisingly, considering it is nearly an hour and forty minutes in length. A large portion of the movie is characters talking to one another, and this would be a good thing if the film was building up to its scares, but it never does. Its scares are few and far between and its storyline is extremely messy and jumbled, not to mention cliché. Whereas the first movie had a massively unique concept, this movie feels like something we have seen numerous times in the past, and better.
Plus, the ending of this movie is one that will most definitely anger many of its viewers, even the ones that did not enjoy the ride, like myself. Let me just say this – if you were a fan of the movie leading up to the last act, you will no longer be a fan of it come the final scene.
Gratefully, there is one thing to praise here, and it is Ema Horvath’s performance as the main protagonist Auna Rue. For the duration of the film, I actually did feel some sympathy for her character in some crucial sequences and she delivers a raw performance. In some moments, her acting is truly great and it makes you wonder how she has only ever acted in one feature film before this one. Horvath is a terrific actress but I just wish she was in a better movie.
The Gallows Act II is a disaster on almost all levels. Its script is jumbled and clichéd, has an abundance of jumpscares, and has a maddening ending that makes the rest of the film seem pointless.
Overall Grade: D-
MPAA Rating: R for some disturbing violent content
Cast: Ema Horvath, Chris Milligan, Brittany Falardeau
Directed by: Chris Lofing, Travis Cluff
Distributed by: Lionsgate
Running Time: 109 minutes