Supernatural Teen Chiller

You realize it’s a new era for horror movies when the terrifying danger of making YouTube videos plays a central role. The Gallows Act II is a sequel to the largely forgettable 2015 original, a found-footage thriller from Blumhouse.

If you don’t remember The Gallows, don’t worry. This sequel from the same filmmakers stands on its own, moving far away from found-footage horror into traditional cinema. Completed a couple years ago, The Gallows Act II finally hits home video with a thud.

The Gallows Act II stars teenagers Ema Horvath and Chris Milligan. Besides being leads, they are practically the only characters with significant screen time. This isn’t complex plotting with a deep ensemble cast. The critical ingredients here are returning filmmakers Travis Cluff & Chris Lofing, pulling joint directorial and writing duties as a partnership.

… standardized teen fodder replete with jump scares and menacing figures lurking in the shadows

The R-rated movie’s few set pieces are decent, especially a haunting opener that recalls the first movie. Running nearly 100 minutes, there should have been more terrifying set pieces. Aside from some violent imagery and flashes of hanging corpses, The Gallows Act II shies away from frighteningly visceral scenes.

An aspiring actress and social media maven switches high schools, moving in with her older sister. The teenager soon becomes ensnared researching a cursed stage play, The Gallows. After performing a passage from the play for her 200 YouTube followers, Auna achieves social media stardom when her “Charlie Challenge” vlog goes viral. Finding romance with Cade (Chris Milligan), all of Auna’s dreams are coming true when a deadly spirit known as the Hangman begins haunting her. The supernatural thriller is standardized teen fodder replete with jump scares and menacing figures lurking in the shadows.

Everything about this Gallows sequel feels designed for maximum commercial appeal to one demographic – today’s teenage girls. The hunky male lead is played by the clean-cut Chris Milligan, straight out of central casting as a nearly perfect boyfriend character with smoldering eyes. Then there is Auna, the film’s protagonist and the only character given any real development. Played by the spunky Ema Horvath, Auna is an aspiring Broadway actress and vlogger excited about growing her followers on social media.

There’s nothing wrong with making a horror movie for teenagers, focusing more on romance and the frivolities of high school life than pure terror. The Gallows Act II falls flat because it feels like a heavily processed script designed by some secret Hollywood formula of insipid teenage love and occasional supernatural scares. The acting and direction are decent, if limited by genre demands. Younger crowds may actually enjoy The Gallows Act II, far more than jaded viewers that have seen these same genre tricks before.

Video

Filmed with RED cameras and other modern filmmaking equipment, The Gallows Act II has solid picture quality for low-budget horror. A little smoother than demo-level video, there’s nothing overtly poor outside of an AVC encode riddled with banding in select scenes.

Released courtesy of Lionsgate on a BD-50, it’s clear the automated AVC encode had no one checking the entire movie. Fine detail isn’t affected and definition is generally decent. Serviceable shadow delineation and okay black levels allow viewers an excellent glimpse into the haunting done by a mixture of CGI and practical VFX.

As the cinematographer mentions in the special features, the color grading is heavily influenced by certain themes. Whenever the Hangman appears, scenes are lit by an eerie red glow. Other times, a darkly saturated cold blue dominates. Exterior scenes have that extra contrast and brightness often associated with clarity and razor-sharp imagery. The overall 2.39:1 presentation arrives in crisp 1080P resolution.

Audio

The provided 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio sometimes offers powerful sonics and a nicely discrete surround mix. A nightmarish atmosphere is heard from the ambient rear channels. Some directional pans move with authority across the front soundstage. Intelligible dialogue neatly balances with the heavy thump and dynamics brought by the low end.

Optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles play in a white font. They remain inside the scope presentation at all times.

Extras

For a movie that will likely hit Dollar Tree sooner or later, The Gallows Act II receives quite substantial special features. Lionsgate provides the Blu-ray and DVD combo pack with a slipcover. The included digital copy redeems in HDX on your choice of four providers: VUDU, Google, iTunes and FandangoNOW.

Audio Commentary with Writers and Directors Travis Cluff & Chris Lofing – An uneven commentary that occasionally entertains with filmmaking insight but has dead air far too often for a discussion with two people. Probably not worth a listen unless you believe The Gallows Act II is an undiscovered masterpiece.

“Summoning the Hangman: Staging The Gallows Act II” Featurette (35:21 in HD) – An annoyingly complete and in-depth behind-the-scenes documentary for low-budget horror. Directors Travis Cluff & Chris Lofing discuss the challenge of following up the original Gallows and moving away from the found-footage genre with the sequel. Both cast and further crew members such as the cinematographer delve into making the film. Footage from the set and nicely edited clips make this a polished featurette covering a wide range of production issues.

Deleted Scenes (33:44 in HD) – Fourteen deleted scenes, all complete and polished in solid A/V quality, play without any context provided. They play in roughly chronological order from the movie. Some character moments and a few sub-plots that seemingly were removed wholesale from the final cut.

Lionsgate Trailers (04:34 in HD) – Trailers for Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark and 47 Meters Down: Uncaged play before the main menu. They can also be played from the special features menu.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

The Gallows Act II
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  • Extras
2

Movie

A so-so supernatural thriller aimed at teens, the few nicely crafted set pieces don’t make up for the lame script and boring characters.

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User Review
3 (1 vote)

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