“Charlie, Charlie, can we play?” has become the phrased linked to one of the leading online challenges of 2015. The new summer horror, The Gallows, brings the Vine-inspired ouija-like game to life. After a Dominican Republic newscast of the well-known Spanish game, Juego de la Lapicera (game of the pens), Twitter trended with #TheCharlieChallenge as the game crossed major language barriers. The Gallows resurrects the dead this summer, per se, as the film follows teens who unwittingly contact the spirit of a young boy who dies during a high school production, whose name just so happens to be Charlie.
Vines and Instagrams alike went viral as compilation videos were made showing people placing their two pencils in cross formation over a grid labeled ‘yes’ and ‘no’ in each corner. The game begins with asking the spirit of Charlie, “Can we play?” The videos show the top pencil moving toward one of the ‘yes’ boxes, freaking out those playing the game and ending their videos in screams and funny expletives. Certain spoofs have also been made with Vine users beginning the question and immediately crumbling their papers and throwing them away as they express how crazy trying to contact the spirit world actually is.
The Gallows is said to be promoted on the heels of a game originating in Spain, and parts of Latin America, that is usually played by teenage girls who are questioning which boys may or may not like them. Reactions differ from all over the world concerning the ouija-like question game. Four Columbian girls were admitted into a Tunjan hospital having been diagnosed with mass hysteria, despite being immediately released. Even with The Gallows trying to resurrect the dead this summer, using the Charlie challenge has been the films greatest strategic move.
Caitlyn Dewey, from The Washington Post, stated how interesting it is for viral trends to transcend language and culture through the power of social media. Although The Gallows uses the name Charlie as the terrorizing ghost in the film, the trailer does not give much to suggest that this film is completely based on the challenge itself. However, producers of the show have been noted as saying that they indeed used the social media climate to properly promote their movie.
In the origin of the game, there is no demon or ghost known as Charlie. However; if there was, critics say it would be Carlitos, not Charlie, considering the Spanish roots. Indeed, any Latin game that contains an English name is usually a creative invention of Americans.
The Gallows trailer gives just enough to elude to a plot that is meant to taunt audiences with thrill shocking suspense, yet it does seem quite misplaced as Summer is usually a place for romantic dramas and gut-busting comedies. In any case, if people want to be scared for their Summer, this film may be a great start. Warner Brothers is set to release the film July 1o.
Although the film may not be directly related to the online phenomenon of teens and young adults trying to contact the spirit of Charlie, movie fans awaiting the horror may find it interesting to notice any connections, other than the name, that the film may have. Aside from the Charlie context, The Gallows is resurrecting dead spirits this summer with the same formula of teens with nothing better to do, getting into things they have no idea about, only to be sucked into a vortex of ghostly, satanic type torture that will leave audiences gasping for air or laughing from the ridiculousness.
By Danyol Jaye
Edited by Chanel van der Woodsen
The Washington Post- The complete, true story of Charlie Charlie, the ‘demonic’ teen game overtaking the Internet
YouTube: The Gallows Official Trailer #1 (2015) – Horror Movie HD
IMDB: The Gallows
Feature Photo Courtesy of Matthew Lee High- Mlhradio’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License