Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
I have to be honest, Beyond the ameaates is a horrible film. There is absolutely nothing redeeming about it. The acting is stale. There’s no emotional depth to any of the characters. The story is filled with massive jumps in logic, and the climax comes and goes so quickly that it gives Fantastic Four a run for its money. Yet, while watching this film, I couldn’t help by wonder if all of this was done on purpose to pay homage to some of the campy horror films of the 80’s and play into some of the nostalgia craze with a story centered around a VHS board game. Regardless of how purposeful this film was in its intent, Beyond the Gates was one of the most entertaining and fun films I watched over the weekend.
The film’s story centers around two brothers after their father has been missing for seven months. One brother, Gordon (Graham Skipper), has moved away from their small town, has a girlfriend, Margot (Brea Grant), and lives a decent successful life. The other brother, John (Chase Williamson), still lives in the small town the two boys grew up in, hangs with the rough crowd, and lives an essentially broke existence. Their father owned a VHS rental store in the town where they grew up, and after his long absence, John and Gordon decide to clean out the store. While there they manage to get into their father’s back office, a place where they were never allowed to go. In the office, they find a mysterious VHS board game that they learn might have contributed to their father’s disappearance. John, Gordon, and Margot decide to play the game in an attempt to discover what happened to their father. What they find is something more evil than they could ever imagine.
There’s nothing strictly “good” about this film other than its homage to 80’s horror classics. The entire story Beyond the Gates tries to tell feels like it came about 30 years too late. In an attempt to induce humor into the story, there’s even a joke about how John and Gordon’s father didn’t think DVD’s would catch on. Many of the scares are jump scares from common misdirection. There’s even enough blood to rival Johnny Depp in Nightmare on Elm St. The fact that the entire film centers on a style of board game I wasn’t even aware existed shows how old some of the content of this film feels. At the same time, with the exception of the DVD joke, the film does manage to maintain a feeling of being a somewhat modern take on an old tale. I couldn’t help but think that Beyond the Gates is significantly more entertaining than the Jumanji reboot is going to be.
The characters are all given loose, stereotypical back stories. There is nothing compelling about any of them. The more that’s revealed about each of them, the less compelling they become. The story even introduces characters for the sole purpose of dying later, and it’s obvious when you meet them what their fate is going to be. It’s as if the story used the typical archetypes of a horror movie instead of trying to do something new or unique. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with that, but the film could have given the characters a little more depth while also playing into the nostalgia and homage the story is trying to create. Both the acting and the characters feel like shells of what they could have been.
There’s really not a whole lot that needs saying about Beyond the Gates. It’s a bad film, regardless of intent. It looks, sounds, and feels like an amateur film. The shots are far from interesting. The story is bland. The characters are bland. The pacing is sometimes too fast and sometimes too slow. Even the logic of the board game is questionable. So, why should you watch this? Because it is an amazingly entertaining film. Beyond the Gates is the type of film you gather all of your friends together and watch and laugh at. It’s an easy target for jokes. It’s a film that is so bad it’s good. This is a film that I cannot wait to show to everyone I know because it is so incredibly good and bad. It’s currently on Netflix, so do yourself a favor and find everyone you know and watch this film.