Saturday, November 26, 2016

Beyond The Gates (2016)

 Jackson Stewart


Stephen Scarlata
Jackson Stewart


Barbara Crampton
Graham Skipper
Chase Williamson
Brea Grant
Justin Welborn
Jesse Merlin
Matt Mercer
Henry LeBlanc
Sara Malakul Lane


Two estranged brothers reunite when their father goes missing. They have reunited to liquidate the video store that he owned and sell off his assets. As the brothers begin to rummage through all the old shelves of the video store, they discover an old VHS board game called Beyond The Gates. When they decide to play the game, they soon find that it may have something to do with their father's disappearance.

When I was thirteen years of age, I had just started high school. Not wanting to be like some of the kids from my area who got up to no good, I walked into that local video store and asked for a job. Being that you need to be fourteen years and nine months old to legally work in Australia. I told my boss that I would work for free as long as I could hire VHS videos for free. My boss was a lovely lady who agreed to the terms and conditions. This is where my love of horror movies started.

I feel sad that kids these days that will never know the absolute joy of working in a video store. I worked in the video store from the age of thirteen until eighteen years of age. I saw the VHS come and go and the considerable rise of DVD. I also managed to work for free, until I was old enough and began getting paid until I was eventually a manager. This is still the all-time favourite job that I've ever held. Sad these kids today will never know how amazing the video store was to work in.

When I started Beyond The Gates, I was immediately overcome with this sense of nostalgia. Not because the movie has this really cool throwback, eighties old-school, horror vibe to it but because it opens in a video store. Over the years, I've seen less and fewer video stores staying open. I've watched Video Ezy, Blockbuster, and Civic video disappear, and it's really disheartening. Kids these days won't ever know the joys of having your parents take you to the video store to pick up all the latest new releases or browse through the shelves to find ten old school movies for ten dollars.

The movie didn't just hit me once with this tremendous wave of nostalgia, but it had managed to successfully do it twice. Beyond The Gates is about a VHS board game that when played, it traps the souls of anyone who plays it. The film took me back to being a child and playing the board game Nightmare with a group of my friends and being absolutely terrified of the Gatekeeper. Just for nostalgic reasons alone, I found myself having a lot of fun with Beyond The Gates even if the film wasn't perfect.

I'll start with the issues that I had with Beyond The Gates. I'll get the bad out of the way first. The movie has one of the most fun premises that I think I saw in 2016. It sadly doesn't always live up to its premise, though. This story is quite a low budget flick, so I don't think they were always able to fully immerse us as an audience in the Beyond The Gates realm. I'd have liked to see more of our characters entering that world or even a showdown with Barbara Crampton who plays the gatekeeper in the video game.

We also have a few moments in the film that had me questioning the story. We learn that the father has been trapped within the board game yet he's managed to lock his back office in the video store and get the key home. I would've liked to see them try and explain the rules of the board game a little more as we get instructions but it's so quick that we don't get the full details. Little things within the story like this don't add up or make all that much sense, but these are things that I was able to overlook due to my enjoyment of the film.

Beyond The Gates wins on the practical gore effects front. The movie chooses to use a lot of over the top and gruesome gore that took me back to the early days. I will always welcome practical effects over shitty CGI blood spray or gore. I can't tell you how much I was loving all the exploding faces, carnage with kitchen knives and guts being ripped out of people's stomachs. Bravo on giving us practical effects. Long live the practical visual effects and down with the computer generated shit.

The acting in Beyond The Gates was decent. Barbara Crampton stole the show. I'd have been happy with about ten more minutes of her manically laughing or creepily staring at us. She just has the alluring presence about her. Brea Grant who plays the girlfriend also delivered in her role. I thought the women killed it in this film. Chase Williamson and Graham Skipper who play the brothers are alright in their parts. I had much preferred Chase Williamson's character as he was more lively and less mopey than Graham Skipper. His character almost dragged a few of the scenes down.

Lastly, when it comes to chills and thrills, I think Beyond The Gate isn't all that scary. The film has a few scenes where our characters meet a couple of ghouls and demons that try for the loud jump scares and more often than not they don't land. I thought this film wasn't really going for all that, though. I thought they were trying to almost play the scenes in a comedic and over the top sort of way. At times, this plays almost like a horror comedy than a serious story of two brothers trying to battle evil to save their father.



- A girl is covered in blood.
- A guy's intestines get pulled out of his stomach.
- Someone's heart is ripped out in their dream.
- Someone's face explodes.
- A knife through the arm.
- A demon is repeatedly stabbed with a kitchen knife.
- A demon has its head bashed in with a baseball bat.
- A monster is stuck in the back.
- A demon is stabbed in the head.
- A demon is stabbed and has its heart removed.

Beyond The Gates is far from perfect. The movie has a few problems with the story. However, as a late eighties and early nineties kid, this film had enough sentimental value that kept me really enjoying and interested in the movie. I loved the throwback to eighties horror, the practical gore effects were also a lot of fun. This film made me want to go on eBay and try and find a copy of Nightmare and get a group of friends together to play the board game and relive my childhood.


  1. Sadly I couldn't get into the appeal or keep focus in this film. A lot of people love it and rave about it though so I thought that was a little disappointing.

    I did like the nostalgic video store element, but sadly, that's about it. Oh well, the video store and the video board games were cool additions. I think I only ever played one but it was the next generation of that - you put the disc into the computer and played along that way. Nightmare sounds amazing.

    Even though I didn't like the film, it's great to see an indie horror film get so much attention.

    1. If I ever find a copy of the original Nightmare with the VHS tape that came with it. We should totally do drinks and play it. It's so much fun. They released it as Atmosphere I believe and it had a DVD this time around. The nostalgia of it all. Kids miss out on some much great stuff these days.