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At a Glance: The Gallows (2015)

Mason Sylvia



It was during the screening for Unfriended (totally disappointed, by the way) that I first witnessed the teaser trailer for The Gallows, an upcoming found-footage horror film from New Line Cinema and Blumhouse. In the teaser, which has a red-filter, we see a young woman (Cassidy Gifford) cowering at the top of a flight of stairs, facing the camera. Her cries of distress and fear are heard and as she crawls toward the camera, a figure standing behind her comes into view, holding what looks like a hangman’s noose. The young woman tilts her head to display some violent markings on her neck and as the camera pans backward, we can clearly see a noose around her neck. As she glances down and notices it herself, she is violently pulled down the stairs, screaming and losing a shoe in the process. The teaser ends and the film’s title card is displayed.

In 1993, a senior student at Beatrice High School, Charlie Grimille, died due to a prop malfunction during the small town school’s presentation of The Gallows. Twenty years later, it would seem that students of the school try to perform the failed show in a misguided attempt to honor the anniversary—but a small handful of students break into the school at night to sabotage the production and soon discover that some things are better left alone…for good. There isn’t much information about the film presently and there’s been a bit of confusion and speculation as to what the students are actually doing when they break into the school and why.

Back in 2012, an indie film company, Tremendum Pictures, originally had The Gallows as a small project called Superstition, before New Line Cinema acquired distribution rights in 2014. The film is said to be in found-footage design with a cast of nobodies, save for Cassidy Gifford, the daughter of football legend Frank Gifford and Today Show host Kathie Lee Gifford. The Gallows has also garnered media attention for being one of the latest horror films of 2015 as well as some publicity for the trending #CharlieCharlieChallenge.

The #CharlieCharlieChallenge has had numerous reported sources of origin: it’s a game that was popularized over the Internet last month and may have originated from a playground game in Spanish-speaking countries, known as Juego de la Lapicera, or Game of the Pens. It has also been linked to a 2008 YouTube video, titled Jugando Charly Charlie. In this past April, a television newscast about the game being played in the Dominican Republic was posted to YouTube, with the unintentional humor in the newscast leading to a trend on Twitter, crossing the language barrier to be played by English language speakers. The game involves crossing two pencils or pens to create a grid, with sections labeled ‘yes’ and ‘no,’ and asking questions to a supernatural entity named Charlie. The upper pencil or pen is expected to rotate to indicate the answer to the questions.

In the chaos and confusion, with The Gallows’ main antagonist being named Charlie, there was a lot of speculation that the film itself was the source of the sudden media trend, despite reports that the #CharlieCharlieChallenge concept existed long before the film was popularized and streamlined. It doesn’t help alleviate any confusion with the fact that the marketing team behind The Gallows had started using the hashtags, #CharlieCharlieChallenge, #CharlieCharlie and #DontSayHisName to promote their film and further support speculation that the trend was started to bring publicity to the upcoming film. In addition, the marketing team released a short clip with the same red filter from the teaser trailer of a group of people chanting, “Charlie, Charlie, are you here?” before showing the pens moving to ‘yes’ and showing the clip from the teaser of Cassidy Gifford being dragged by the noose. It’s evident that the prior footage of the Charlie game was not part of the film and created subsequently, but people still continue to believe that the film, The Gallows, involves the game despite the evidence and common sense stating otherwise.

The Gallows currently has a full-length trailer available for viewing, debuting a unique cover of Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ serving as the film’s theme song. It showcases quite a bit of footage from the film (so don’t watch it if you don’t want to catch glimpses of…well, a lot) and truly looks captivating, engaging and terrifying. It raises a lot of questions and is certainly a film I’ll be at the first showing of when it’s released.

The Gallows releases in theaters on July 10, 2015.

Video game enthusiast, James Bond aficionado, Tomb Raider expert, and lover of Beefeater gin. I'm a creature of habit and I'm either found buried in a book or working through my video game backlog when I'm not working my day job.




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