For month’s now I’ve been hearing ton of buzz about the indie horror adventure film Beyond the Gates, which has been billed as Jumanji for horror fans. Due to the trailer and the presence of several actors that I like, I have been dying to see it. Hell, I even ordered a signed copy from Dark Delicacies without having seen the movie. Well, it was brought to my attention that Beyond the Gates had hit Netflix, and being the impatient type, I said fuck waiting on the Blu-Ray to get here and decided to watch it. Read on to see what I thought about Beyond the Gates!
Beyond the Gates is the debut film from Jackson Stewart from a script he co-wrote with Stephen Scarlata (Final Girl 2015). The film stars Graham Skipper (The Mind’s Eye 2015), Chase Williamson (John Dies At The End 2012), Brea Grant (The Devil’s Dolls 2016), Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator 1985), Matt Mercer (Contracted 2013), Justin Welborn (Dance Of The Dead 2008), Jesse Merlin (Helen Keller vs Nightwolves), and Sara Malakul Lane (Pernicious 2014).
After their father’s unexplained disappearance, two estranged brothers – responsible Gordon (Graham Skipper) and reckless John (Chase Williamson) – reunite to sift through the contents of his stubbornly anachronistic VHS rental store. Among the inventory, they find an old interactive VCR board game. Intrigued, the brothers pop in the tape… and soon discover that this video is no ordinary game, but a portal to a nightmarish alternate reality – one with deadly consequences for anyone who dares to press “play.”
Beyond the Gates is a very character-driven film and I personally loved all the characters and their interaction with each other. While the general plot follows two brothers searching for their missing father, it’s really about two brothers reconnecting and becoming a family again. Graham Skipper and Chase Williamson did a wonderful job as the brothers, effortless conveying the awkwardness they feel interacting with each other and the resentment they initially feel towards each other.
As someone who loved Brea Grant on Heroes, I loved seeing her play a lead role in a horror film. She did an excellent job as Margot, Gordon’s supportive girlfriend. I have loved Justin Welborn since I saw him in Gregg Bishop’s amazing zombie comedy Dance of the Dead. Though his screen time here is brief, he makes the most of playing a lovable asshole, which is something he excels at.
Last but not least, horror legend Barbara Crampton is menacing and creepy, a credit to her immense acting talent given that she spends the entire film on a TV screen.
There aren’t a lot of kills in this film but the few we do get are spectacularly gruesome, including a man’s intestines pulled out of his stomach, a nasty exploding head, a face caved in with a baseball bat, a dagger through the skull and a heart cutout. The story as previously stated is character driven. That means it moves a little slower and features quite a bit of dialogue. Some people may get bored with it but I thought it gave the film depth.
Don’t expect the sequences inside the game to look like a different world, they basically look like the house they are in but bathed in purple and blue light behind a small metal gate. Some may be disappointed with this but for me, it works. It invokes the cheesy 80’s VHS games that influenced it and is enhanced by the wicked score.
The ending was satisfying and provided the necessary closure while still leaving it open for a follow up which I hope we get. I would love to know more about the world of the game as well as the background and motivation for Barbara Crampton’s Evelyn.
I absolutely loved Beyond the Gates. The cast and characters were excellent, the kills were nice and bloody, and I loved the cheesy 80’s vibe. While some may be turned off by the slower nature of the story as well as the execution of the game world, I thought it added to the charm of the film. I highly recommend you give Beyond the Gates a chance, especially if you have Netflix.