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, witnessed the tragic event.
Twenty years later, on October 28, 2013, the school attempts to put on a new performance of “The Gallows”. Reese Houser is excited, as this gives him a chance to grow closer to his crush Pfeifer Ross. His friend Ryan Shoos is dismissive of the play, and comes up with the idea to vandalize the set. Reese is reluctant to take part, but agrees when Ryan promises that he’ll be able to console Pfeifer afterwards, giving them a chance to kiss. Later that night Reese, Ryan, and Ryan’s girlfriend Cassidy Spilker sneak into the school, only to run in to Pfeifer, who saw Reese’s car. Knowing they cannot vandalize the sets with Pfeifer there, the group tries to leave but finds that they have been locked inside and there is no cell phone reception. Disturbed, Cassidy admits the trio’s real reason for being in the school, which angers Pfeifer.
As the group tries to look for a way out of the school, they find news coverage of Charlie’s death that includes an interview with his girlfriend Alexis. They also discover that Charlie was not supposed to have performed that day and was only on stage because he was the understudy for the main actor, Reese’s father Rick. As the night progresses Ryan and Cassidy are both killed by Charlie Grimille dressed as the Hangman, a character from “The Gallows”. Reese and Pfeifer unsuccessfully try to escape the spirit and end up on the stage, where the spirit begins to choke her. Realizing that the spirit is Charlie and that he wants them to act out the final scene (in which Reese and Charlie’s character are hanged), Reese and Pfeifer try and manage to successfully complete this task. However, when Reese puts the noose around his neck for the final portion, he is hanged and killed by Charlie. Once he is dead, Pfeifer and Charlie both bow, as Alexis, who was watching the performance, gives a standing ovation.
The police enter a house where Pfeifer and Alexis are residing and watching footage of Charlie’s death, indicating that Pfeifer is the daughter of Charlie and Alexis. When one of the officers attempts to question Pfeifer and Alexis about Charlie, Pfeifer warns him, saying, “You shouldn’t say that name.” The officer then calls for his partner, who witnesses him being dragged by a noose, killing him. Upon turning around, Charlie appears and attacks and kills him, as the screen cuts to black.