Who doesn’t love a bit of eighties nostalgia when it comes to horror? The decade was filled with some of the important films in the history of the genre. It’s no surprise then that a number of films have tried to recapture the look and feel of that iconic period.
Beyond the Gates is one of those films, and from the very beginning, its origins and inspiration are made obvious. The opening titles for instance, look as if they could well have been lifted from the cutting room floor of New Line Cinema back in its heyday.
After the mysterious disappearance of their father, Bob two disconnected brothers, Gordon (Graham Skipper) and John (Chase Williamson) find themselves in the unenviable position of having to take care of his affairs. Part of this involves clearing his dilapidated VHS rental store, located in a bad neighbourhood.
During this process they discover an unusual VHS game that appears to have a supernatural power when played. And when they bring it home to play with Gordon’s girlfriend Margot they unlock the door to another dimension that demands they continue to play the game until they win, or die.
As they are issued tasks by the intimidating (and somewhat sexy) on-screen presence of Barbara Crampton, they are forced to commit brutal acts and make their way further into the realms of the unknown in the hope that they will return victorious and rescue Bob.
Beyond the Gates does a great job of drawing the viewer in. Fans of retro horror will be irresistibly drawn to its music, colours and theme, similar to the way that Gordon and John are enticed ‘beyond the gates’
The cast are solid with the three leads doing exactly that, creating a trio of interesting characters that are worth emotionally investing in.
Great care has been taken to create a story and setting that looks ‘of the time’ and even the special effects have a reminisence to them.
In fact as far as emulating horror movies of the eighties is concerned, Beyond the Gates almost nails it. Only a couple of small differences spoil the illusion.
The first, most obvious sign that this isn’t actually a film of the period (apart from the time in which it’s set) is the style in which its shot. Many of the shots are slow and lingering, which doesn’t match the fast edits of the eighties. This leads to longer, more uneventful scenes which too aren’t characteristic of the period but will seem quite normal to modern horror fans.
This is a shame as the eighties style of charging in with little consideration of shot composition or much of a feasible story is part of what made the films fun.
It’s also a little light on action, meaning that it doesn’t reach the level of excitement that you’d hope to reach with film of this type.
If it could only have offered a little more, it would have made its way into my favourites of Frightfest 2016.
This kind of film is hard to rate. It was good, and oh so close to being great. Either way, fans of the classics should check it out.