New Horror Releases: The Gatehouse (2017) - Reviewed

I have a confession to make. I detested horror films when I was younger. There were exceptions to this rule, like Alien or Child’s Play, but you weren’t getting me to watch Freddy or Jason terrorize the neighborhood. So why would someone who actively avoided horror films as a kid be watching them as an adult? Well, I know better, both technically and psychologically. 

It doesn’t mean that I don’t still cower under my covers at night. But, it also doesn’t mean that all horror films are truly scary. Take for instance Martin Gooch’s The GatehouseSet in the deep forests of the English countryside, widowed Jack Winter (Simeon Willis) is a writer, who talks more about writing than actually doing the activity. As a result, he’s in a funk. His sassy daughter, Eternity (Scarlett Rayner), has taken up a new pastime: digging holes in the forest. This attracts the attention of Mr. Sykes (Linal Haft), a next door neighbor who always has a weapon on him. 

As Eternity continues to dig her holes, she also attracts the attention of something more sinister. As Mr. Gooch’s script moves forward, Eternity becomes more disturbed, scaring her friend Poppy (Samantha White) and her mom, Mary (Melissa Knatchbull). Fortunately, Poppy believes Eternity’s stories and brings in her friend, Daisy (Vanessa Mayfield) who can call up the spirits that inhabit the forest.

The forest isn’t completely full of bad souls. The soul of Eloise Winter (Zara Plessard) guides Eternity from beyond the grave while Jack is offered to ghost write an unfinished book, which just happens to parallel goings on in the film. 

Surprisingly, the acting and the story are quite good. Ms. Rayner is effective as Eternity, whether she’s digging holes, sorting out clues or screaming at the top her lungs. Mr. Willis was solid as Jack, but his performance felt one dimensional. Mr. Haft was the most fun to watch. He gave off this creepy, Oompa Loompa vibe, keeping us on our toes all throughout the film. 

While the makeup is strong, the special effects used to create the environment around our characters was chintzy, and in several instances, I was taken out of the moment. It’s not enough to completely detract from the overall feel of the film. The film still manages a number of good chills, scares and strong character moments enough so that even the casual horror fan will appreciate what Mr. Gooch was going for. 

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-Ben Cahlamer