‘Beyond The Gates‘ is the first feature film from Jackson Stewart, an indie horror movie I’ve been super excited about for a long time. Last night I dropped the seven bones on Google Play to check it out. What originally really excited me about this movie was it’s central focus on a sinister VHS board game from the 1980’s called…you guessed it “Beyond The Gates”. These creepy VHS games were pretty popular back when I was a kid, so of course I automatically dug the nostalgia factor that this one had to offer from the start. I also was quite happy to see Graham Skipper (The Mind’s Eye, Almost Human) as one of the leads and also horror icon Barbara Crampton (From Beyond, Re-animator, We Are Still Here) as the creepy host of the VHS board game.
This one has a lot going for it from the get go and it’s quite an intriguing little mystery. Long story short, two brothers come to find that their alcoholic father has gone missing leaving behind his business, an old video store that he started back in 1992. Ah yes, the local video store, what great memories I have of those. Well as the brothers meet up to box up video tapes, close shop and reminisce about their childhood they discover the old VHS board game in the office.
Things get stranger when they realize the VHS tape from the game was the last thing their father had watched before he disappeared. This begins a series of bizarre events as the brothers and one of their girlfriends decide to give the game a try. I don’t want to give away any clues of the story, it’s a pretty engaging movie and a great dramatic story of two brothers finding peace with each other and their past. There’s a lot in this movie that I can relate to personally and that honestly is the strongest aspect of ‘Beyond The Gates’. It’s got a lot of heart.
I did like this movie, however it could have been one of the best horror movies of 2016 if perhaps it had a bit more of an imagination with the horror side of things and hey maybe a bigger budget? The horror aspect of this one kinda let me down. There were a couple of cool scenes that seemed like they were warming us up for a knock out finale. Sadly that knock out never really arrived, in fact the finale seemed like something that we might have expected to see around the half way mark. The movie had a 3 million dollar budget and personally I think they could have stretched it a bit and really given us a more surreal adventurous final act. I’ve seen movies with smaller budgets go a lot further than this. To me it seemed like a good movie that maybe ran out of money near the end of filming. The potential for some truly crazy stylized 80’s horror was definitely there but it lacked the imagination to give fright fans a truly memorable experience.
Overall I liked this movie more as drama and if I’d have known ahead of time that that’s more of what this was I’d be a little less critical of the horror aspect of things. That being said I still give it a thumbs up for a sweet yet creepy story that knows how to pull at your heartstrings. Check it out!