Beyond the Gates is a playful throwback to the eighties horror movies made with passion and fun.
Beyond the Gates aims at the nostalgic feel of the eighties and nineties when you went to the videostore to rent a movie but also refers to the age of board games and videogames and board videogames. When you had to put a videotape in the recorder, and play it for instructions and for the story to unfold while you played the game on the board. It gave an extra exciting dimension to the game and it almost became more real than just a simple board game.
But Beyond the Gates makes it all too real when it mixes together the supernatural, fantasy and a fun throwback to the eighties featuring practical effects and purple mist to spice it all up. It is a great mix between Jumanji and eighties horror movies and a nostalgic blast to the past especially for the eighties and nineties kids.
When their father is missing for seven months, the estranged brothers John and Gordon meet up at their dad’s videostore to clean it all out. It doesn’t only bring back some memories, not all good ones, but they also find a video board game called ‘Beyond the Gates’ which presumably had been watched by their father before he disappeared.
They start watching it, just out of curiosity, but after seeing the strange woman with even weirder images on screen but also show up in their old home, they soon start to suspect that their dad is literally lost in the game. They have to play the game to save their dad, but at a cost.
Why you should watch it
This movie is made with such fun and love for the eighties horror movie era, you’ll soon be taken by it. It can come across a little cheesy at times, but in a fun way, that is a big nod to the eighties cheesiness. The movie works best for those who lived through the eighties and nineties and who actually remember going to the videostore to rent some movies, playing board games and the infamous video board games.
The atmosphere and special effects, think purple mist, blood fountains and entrails, really hit the eighties spot. It aims at being very entertaining and it succeeds.
Although the story starts out a little slow, before the hell game breaks loose, it still has a nice buildup. Especially when John’s friend Hank, who tried to hit on Gordon’s girlfriend Margot, is suddenly brutally attacked by the game. Then you’ll realize it’s on, even as the brothers and Margot don’t have a clue at that time. You know now you’re in for a bloody blast and from then on it delivers some gory surreal fun.
The game is well-made, the board game does indeed remind you of the good old times, and the video with Evelyn the mysterious woman giving hints and orders, has a creepy vibe, like she’s actually there and real as hell.
Some nightmares Gordon has are really scary, but it is done with a humorous vibe that shows the love for the old horror movies. It’s not laugh-out-loud fun, well, maybe the death’s of two old friends are over the top campy hilarious, but is treated by both brothers in a serious way, so the balance between humor and camp and horror is carefully kept.
My favorite part
I loved the undoing of Hank. Not because it’s fun to see someone die, but let’s be honest, he was a real jerk and it absolutely takes you by surprise.
When Gordon and John find the metal box in the garden with a little doll inside, then you know what is going to happen, mainly because the way the scene is edited. But before that you’ll have no idea which way the story is going. The start took little bit too long, but now it is going to pay off and from then on the eighties fun has begon.
I also liked the addition of Margot. She’s not the third wheel, nor just functional for the board game, but a motivator for Gordon and shows great effort to join both brothers together in the search for their father.
It’s a simple but nice story about two estranged brothers, each with their own problems who get reunited in the search for their mysteriously disappeared father. By means of a game they become heroes and learn an important lesson. It’s great fun, lovable and very entertaining.
Gore factor: ★★★☆☆
Popcorn factor: ★★★★☆
Nostalgic factor: ★★★★☆
Cast and crew
Beyond the Gates is directed and written by Jackson Stewart and cowritten by Stephen Scarlata. It stars Graham Skipper (Gordon), Chase Williamson (John), Brea Grants (Margot), Barbara Crampton (Evelyn), Matt Mercer (Derek), Justin Welborn (Hank) and Jesse Merlin (Elric).
Duration: 84 minutes. Music: Wojciech Golczewski. Cinematography: Brian Sowell. Edited by: Josh Ethier. Produced by: Barbara Crampton, Ian Keiser, John Kondelik, Amanda Mortimer, Stephen Scarlata, Jackson Stewart. Production companies: Destroy All Entertainment, Easy Open Productions, Lodger Films, Thunder Warrior Productions. Distributed by: IFC Midnight.