Combustible Celluloid
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With: Ema Horvath, Chris Milligan, Brittany Falardeau, Dennis Hurley
Written by: Travis Cluff, Chris Lofing
Directed by: Travis Cluff, Chris Lofing
MPAA Rating: R for some disturbing violent content
Running Time: 99
Date: 10/25/2019

The Gallows Act II (2019)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Noose Change

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Marginally better than its awful, found-footage predecessor, which is not saying much, this horror sequel still falls prey to the usual cliches, from cheap jump-scares to not-very-smart characters.

In The Gallows Act II, hopeful acting student Auna Rue (Ema Horvath) begins attending Fellbrook High School, where her Broadway star idols once went. She botches her first class reading, but attracts the attention of handsome Cade Parker (Chris Milligan). Later, she receives a message on her floundering YouTube channel, encouraging her to do a "Charlie Challenge," 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 is not right, and strange thing begin happening to Auna. As she attempts to put The Gallows out of her life, it becomes apparent that there's only one way to put an end to the terror.

The Gallows (2015) was a clumsy jumble, hamstrung both with weak characters and a weak premise, but it was a hit, and co-writers and co-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 Rue, but although she's sweet, she's still annoyingly naïve. Her behavior is always bent in service to the plot, rather than the character.

As a scary movie, it's a dud. Almost all the bloodless frights are jump-scares, and many of those are false ones, 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 ruined by an overuse of music as well. 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.

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