New Horror Releases: Beyond The Gates (2016) – Reviewed

Now available on VOD from IFC Midnight is the 1980’s inspired occult horror film Beyond The Gates, which is equal parts Hellraiser, Jumanji, Lucio Fulci’s The Gate, and Evil Dead. The end result is an absolutely insane homage to an era of VHS, board games, video nasties, and over the top violence, delivering on entertainment and holy shit moments. The story involves two estranged brothers, Gordon (Graham Skipper) and John (Chase Williamson), who reconnect to deal with their missing father’s estate and his VHS rental store. They discover an unusual VCR board game, which sets in motion some dire consequences.
The story tries to be more than just a straight horror flick by focusing on family issues and themes between the two brothers, their missing father, and the one brother and his girlfriend. There is some comedic dialogue, but that is mostly during the first act of the movie. Some viewers may find the pacing of the first act to be somewhat slow, but things really pick up once the board game comes into play. The final twenty minutes are filled with freaky moments and wildly violent gore effects.
The cast contains an impressive list of actors that have appeared in other recent horror pictures, as well as some cult classics. Skipper and Matt Mercer both previously appeared together in the recent sci-fi/horror film The Mind’s Eye. Williamson and Justin Welborn both appeared in the recently released SiREN. Skipper and Williamson both give excellent performance and play well off of each other. Mercer and Welborn are good, but only have minor appearances. Brea Grant (The Devil’s Doll) is decent as Gordon’s girlfriend. The major stand out is former scream queen Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator), who is super creepy as the board game hostess on the videotape.
First time feature length director Jackson Stewart does a respectable job with the budgetary limitations that come with a small independent production. There is decent camera movement, camera placement, and lots of nice facial close ups of the actors. The opening title sequence was excellent and helped set up the theme of the movie. The score from Wojciech Golczewski is superb and it totally captured the essence of the sounds of the 80’s.
This is an obvious passion project from a group of filmmakers that love an era that pretty much no longer exists and they have done a fine job of paying tribute to it. Fans of the 80’s and violent horror movies should end up enjoying this one.

Be kind, please rewind.