October 2, 2018
29 Days Till Halloween
Beyond the Gates attempts to be the best VHS-based horror movie since Samara crawled out of a television set. And this low-budget flick may well grasp that brass ring, if for no other reason than, to my knowledge, there are no other VHS-based horror movies.
Beyond the Gates begins in 1992, with the grand opening of a small town, horror-themed video store. Flash forward to 2016, when estranged brothers Gordon and John have reunited to settle their missing father’s estate, video store included. For the first twenty minutes or so, the movie meanders, setting up the fact that the two brothers don’t get along, introducing us to the Gordon’s love interest, Margot, and establishing that something weird is going on. After discovering the key to their dad’s office, the two brothers stumble upon the horror-themed board game “Beyond the Gates,” which requires players to watch a VHS tape to advance. Turns out the gates in question are more like gates to another dimension, or possibly hell itself.
Beyond the Gates trades on nostalgia and atmosphere to make its point. The movie has a distinctive 80s feel, and it would certainly have been straight to video if such things still existed. The movie takes a while to get going, but once the game begins, so does the fun. The film’s tongue is always firmly in cheek, and don’t expect any major frights here. But there is plenty of gore and plenty of cool twists.
And I gotta say, between the cool retro video store and the ultra creepy curio shop, this is a town I’d like to visit.
Check out Beyond the Gates. But just remember–once you start, you have to finish.