beyond the gatesIFC Midnight
2016
NR

After their father’s unexplained disappearance, two estranged brothers reunite to sift through the contents of his stubbornly anachronistic VHS rental store. Among the inventory, they find an old interactive VCR board game. Intrigued, the brothers pop in the tape…and soon discover that this video is no ordinary game, but a portal to a nightmarish alternate reality: one with deadly consequences for anyone who dares to press play.

Like a lot of horror flicks I come across, I heard about Beyond The Gates by way of other online reviewers. There are some whose word of mouth have more weight than that of the professional movie reviewers everyone else listens to. In this case, it was a vlog by the Horror Guru and Count Jackula on You Tube where they gave Beyond The Gates a rather enthusiastic thumbs-up, calling it a great love letter to the 1980s style of horror movies. And since I am a child of the 80s and remember those horror flicks rather fondly, that was enough to send me out to watch Beyond The Gates.

The story involves two estranged brothers, sons of a video store owner who disappeared mysteriously, who are begrudgingly reunited to clean out the video store they grew up with to sell the property, due to their father being missing long enough to be considered not returning at least. One of the boys is fairly straight-laced if not a bit uptight, while the other is the wild child, getting drunk and essentially being the cooler of the two. Anyway, due to them both going through the memories of the store and staying at their childhood home, they bond a bit…and then stumble across an old VHS board game called Beyond The Gates that may or may not have something to do with the disappearance of their father. So, they begin playing, and weird things begin happening: the host of the video seems to be talking directly to the players specifically and knows about their father, certain portholes begin appearing inside the house, and then there’s the gruesome results of the side quests they’re sent on. All the while you have to wonder, are they going to succeed in getting their father back, or are they merely unleashing a literal hell on earth?

You know, thinking back, while I remember quite a few stories and some movies/television episodes involving a haunted game of some sort, I can’t recall any that dealt with a cursed VHS board game. Having never really played one of those kind of board games before, I don’t really know the dynamics of engaging in the game. But, that’s beyond the point, really. What Beyond The Gates boils down to is a fun, dark, spooky horror flick that, honestly, could have fallen flat on its face in the delivery, but managed to make things charming and effective throughout. The acting is passable, yes, and it takes a bit to get going. But when it does, it has some rather nifty fun with the ride.

Overall, Beyond The Gates is a fun, low-budget B-Movie horror flick that doesn’t pretend to be anything but that. I enjoyed this greatly, and thinking this can be paired up with a double head with the 1986 cheese classic The Gate some night.

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