Review: “Beyond the Gates” is 80s nostalgia at it’s finest



Title: Beyond the Gates
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Posted December 12, 2016 by

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Wait… so you are telling me there is a horror film, about a VHS board game that terrorizes two brothers (Graham Skipper and Chase Williamson) , and it has not only those guys but also Brea Grant, Sara Malakul Lane, and the legendary Barbara Crampton? Count me in! While part of me is beginning to worry that all of this 80s nostalgia will soon reach critical mass, I am loving the hell out of what it has done for the horror genre over the last few years. Writer/director Jackson Stewart has made a debut feature film that is clever, fun, and pitch perfect. In fact it might be in my top five genre films of 2016! Much like Joe Begos‘ throwback splatter flick “The Mind’s Eye”, Stewart’s “Beyond the Gates” hit every note I hoped it would, and had me smiling all the way through. Sure, that might have something to do with the fact that I am a huge sucker for anything that reminds me of the Carpenter flicks from my youth. Even the fact that I have a soft spot for movies that center on fractured sibling relationships. Whatever the reasons, I enjoyed the hell out of this movie!

Gordon (Skipper) and John (Williamson) return home, when their father is presumed dead after missing for seven months. The brothers have a caring but strained relationship, a lot of which stems from their father’s anger and distant approach to parenting caused by alcoholism. While packing up their dad’s video rental store (another element I loved), they stumble upon a strange looking VHS board game. Their curiosity gets the best of them, and they take the game home and decide to play. It’s all fun and games until the games host (the lovely Crampton) begins speaking to them directly saying they have to play the game to save their father’s soul.

I won’t go further into the plot, because I don’t want to get into spoiler territory. I will just say that as the game goes on, things get more and more wacky, and blood-soaked, and awesome! The cast, which is full of familiar indie horror folks, is all excellent. You can just see when a group of people are working on a project that they are having legitimate fun on, and it makes it so much more enjoyable for the viewer. Everything from the set design to the references to other horror films just screamed “We are horror lovers making a movie for people like us!”. Wojciech Golczewski’s score is also amazing and really gives a huge boost to the 80s feel, and the gore effects were so sweet that I actually re-watched all of the deaths in slow motion.

Like I said, the film struck all the right chords, and left me wanting more. That is really the best compliment I can give a film of any genre… I didn’t want it to end. The last five minutes gave me the same “This is wonderful, but I am sad it’s almost over.” feeling I get, when I take the last bite of one of my mom’s chocolate chip cookies. I guess, if I had to complain about one thing, it would be how brief Sara Malakul Lane‘s screen time was. I mean, if you are going to cast one of the most beautiful people to ever grace the film industry… That is a small, nay meaningless complaint though and did nothing to detract from my love of “Beyond the Gates”.




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