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Film / The Gallows

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The Gallows is a 2015 Found Footage horror film. It stars Reese Mishler, Pfiefer Brown, Ryan Shoos, and Cassidy Gifford.

During a high school play in 1993, senior Charlie Grimille is accidentally killed during the show's climactic scene. 20 years later, the high school is putting on another performance, but a group of friends sneak into the school at night to sabotage the play, only to be haunted by an unfriendly supernatural presence.

A sequel, The Gallows: Act II, was released October 25, 2019.

This film provides examples of:

  • Accidental Misnaming: Being a Jerk Jock, Ryan obviously doesn't bother to learn the names of anyone outside of his elite social circle.
    Ryan: Hey, Brooke!
    Kelly: My name is Kelly!
  • Arc Words: "He wants me. He's coming for me." Being a line in the play's script, it pops up whenever the group performs it. Including the moment when Reese is forced into acting it out by Charlie, before being hanged.
  • Asshole Victim: All of the characters, really, but special mention goes to Ryan.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Charlie's ghost succeeds in hanging the son of the actor he replaced in the show before his death.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Charlie's spirit is the main killer, but his former girlfriend/mother of his child Alexis and their daughter Pfeifer were in on the hauntings.
  • Brick Joke: Pfeifer FINALLY got a decent performance out of Reese.
  • Dissonant Serenity: After the carnage, the police find Alexis calmly combing Pfeifer's hair: the two of them staring off into space with eerily calm expressions on their faces.
  • Downer Ending
  • Driven to Madness: Alexis after Charlie's death. It can't help that he's literally haunting her.
  • Evil All Along: Pfeifer.
  • Evil Is Petty: It turns out Charlie was never supposed to be in the play; Rick, the actor playing the lead role, had called in sick on the night of the fatal performance, so Charlie had to take over for him. It's later revealed that Reese is Rick's son, and so Charlie's entire motivation for revenge apparently comes down to "your father called in sick and I died taking his place". This despite the fact that Rick couldn't help that he was sick that night, and the accident itself wasn't his fault and didn't have anything to do with him (though there is the possible implication that Rick sabotaged the gallows for some reason) but Charlie's ghost apparently doesn't care about any of that, so of course Reese has to die for no other reason than the fact he's related to Rick.
  • Fatal Method Acting: In-Universe. Charlie died when the gallows prop malfunctioned, causing him to be hanged for real.
  • Hanging Around: Obviously. It is the modus operandi of Charlie, a murderous spirit of a deceased student who was accidentally hanged himself in a high school play.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Near the end, Reese decides to let Charlie kill him in order to save Pfeifer. Too bad she was anticipating this.
  • In the Hood: Charlie.
  • Jerkass: Ryan, who frequently taunts the theater crew and mocks Charlie's death.
  • Jerk Jock: Ryan.
  • Jump Scare: Ryan does one on his camera in his room, and every major scare in the school involves one.
  • Karma Houdini: Pfeifer and Alexis watch at the end as Charlie kills two police officers. Possibly averted, since a graphic at the beginning states that the entire movie is property of the police, which leaves open the possibility that they are later caught or killed offscreen.
  • Metafictional Title: While the title refers to the physical gallows on stage, the play that is being performed is titled The Gallows.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Cassidy gets several close-ups of her (clothed) breasts and butt for no real reason.
  • Moody Trailer Cover Song: Uses a scary version of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in the trailer.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: When Cassidy is cowering in the hallway, Charlie approaches her from behind from the dark ever so slowly with absolutely no sound accompanying him.
  • Not-So-Fake Prop Weapon: On October 29, 1993, Beatrice High School student Charlie Grimille is accidentally hanged and killed after a prop malfunction during a presentation of the play The Gallows. His parents, along with the whole audience, witness the tragic event.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The moment when Cassidy looks through the camera and sees a noose around her neck...
    • Ryan gets an earlier one when he observes that the noose he tore down has been retied and strung back up, albeit more secure and tighter.
    • Reese has multiple: one when he realizes the actor who called in sick and led to Charlie's death was his father, one when he turns around after escaping the school and sees that Pfeifer has not followed him, and the final one when he realizes that Pfeifer is still reciting her lines as he is set up to be hanged.
  • Red Herring: Early in the film, Ryan pals around with the school's janitor, David, and the possibility of him working late that night is brought up. It seems to be setting him up as a Chekhov's Gunman, but he never turns up during the action.
  • Say My Name: It's bad luck to say Charlie's name.
  • School Play: The play the movie is named after. It has what looks like an early American setting and ends with the main character being hanged.
  • The Scottish Trope: Saying Charlie's name is regarded as bad luck.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog Story
  • Sins of Our Fathers: It's subtly implied that Charlie's death was caused by Reese's father sabotaging the gallows setting, similar to Ryan's idea to get Reese out of doing the play.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: It's revealed fairly early on that the woman watching the rehearsals of the play was Charlie's girlfriend. In the end, it turns out that Pfeifer is his daughter.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Ryan was simply asking for Charlie to do him in when he taunts him by shouting his name, knowing full well it was bad luck to do so and that Charlie was a major threat at that point.
    • Reese finally makes it out of the school, but he realizes that Pfeiffer is not with him. You would expect him to leave and come back with help, but he decides to go back in - alone.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailers feature the death of Cassidy. And it's played out in the exact same way.