Beyond the Gates (2016)
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as Young John
as Young Gordon
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Critic Reviews for Beyond the Gates
The fresh-faced cast and first-time director Jackson Stewart give it their best, but once the tape enters the machine, all bets are off.
Shows early promise but eventually ends up in the bin of ordinariness.
Though the film moves slowly - like a half-hour anthology episode stretched to three times its natural length - co-writer/director Jackson Stewart's obvious affection for obsolete technology earns some goodwill.
It's an odd, sometimes uneasy combination of stylized retro horror and character drama that plays like a game of Exquisite Corpse between the Duplass brothers and Full Moon Pictures.
This fun if unmemorable occult thriller sports - all too faithfully at times - both the typical pleasures and shortcomings of the movies it pays homage to.
Audience Reviews for Beyond the Gates
I've never played a VHS board game, I think that sort of predates my generation. Though I am familiar with toys that have VCRs attached to them. I remember having like a talking wolf thing that came with a VCR. It wasn't exactly a game, but there were times when the wolf would respond to what was happening. I wish I could remember the name of that thing, but that's neither here nor there. Thanks to this movie, now I'm sort of compelled to seek out some of these VHS board games, which sound cool as shit. To say the least, this movie certainly has a very ambitious concept. This is something I applaud in every movie, regardless of genre. Though it's concepts like this, and their execution, that brings attention to horror movies from those who look at the genre derisively, and there's plenty of them. Though, sadly, with a limited budget I can see this movie not gaining as much traction as a film like, say, It Follows (an excellent horror movie). Admittedly speaking the movie, while having a great concept, doesn't really have the budget to back it up. For example, when the leads find themselves trapped in the game's world, the look of the place was just kind of a turn off. I believe that might be the wrong word to describe it, but the game's world felt way too similar to the real world. The only difference is that the lighting was different and there was way more smoke That's it, there's no real aesthetic changes, just the lighting and the smoke. And I can't really blame them for that, they just didn't have the type of budget to make the game 'world' as it were as trippy as it probably should have been given the concept, but, again, that sort of holds the movie back to me. Having said all of that, I still think that this is an enjoyable horror movie. Perhaps it doesn't go as far as it can with the concept, but I found it to be a well-written movie with an interesting narrative and some really strong gore. The cast is also quite good all things considered. I just wish the brotherly angle was explored further. John and Gordon, the brothers in question, have been driven apart by their shared experiences of living with their drunk of a father, who has been missing for seven months at the beginning of the movie. Gordon left the first chance he could and left John behind. Gordon seems to be doing well for himself, in spite of inheriting his father's alcoholism, and John's life hasn't gone as planned, let's just say. I wish the film had explored that dynamic more. It might have added more depth to the characters and why their lives have taken divergent paths. This also doesn't even cover John's alcoholism and what that addiction has led him to do to his girlfriend prior to the film's events. Not saying that the characters are super interesting, but they could have done more. That's neither here nor there, since I still liked the film's approach to its characters and their obsession with this VHS board game. I've already gone over all the issues I have with the film. The concept writes itself a check that it cannot cash wish such a limited budget. Though I still applaud the ambition and risk taken in trying to make something that's different and stand out in the very crowded horror genre. It's gonna be a movie that a good chunk of people won't like, as evidenced by the audience reaction, but I enjoyed it. That's all that matters to me. I'd still give it a recommendation to hardcore horror geeks, if they wanna see something a little different. Not perfect, but a good horror flick nonetheless.
Satisfies my aesthetic to a tee, but remains un-engaging and kinda stupid.
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