Has a movie ever terrified you so much that you have to turn the lights on after a viewing? I can proudly say that Beyond The Gates has pulled off terror so well that I had trouble sleeping after watching it (granted I shouldn’t have started it at midnight, but no one is perfect). The film follows two brothers that meet up after years of radio silence to clean up their father’s video rental store when he goes missing for seven months. As they pack everything up, the pair discover an old VHS board game titled “Beyond The Gates” in their dad’s old office. While trying to break the ice over dinner at their childhood home, the brothers along with the oldest sibling’s girlfriend decide to try the game out. And, as always in these types of , insanity follows as the woman on the VHS guides the trio on a journey of self discovery with an array of brutal tasks in order to go BEYOND THE GATES.
First with what didn’t work: the pacing. The movie is less than an hour and a half, meaning that it has a very limited time to set up the characters and put them on the path of a fulfilling journey. The film makers spend a lot of time on the character development, which is not inherently bad since it does allow the audience to gain a meaningful connection to two characters that could easily be unlikable.We got a great group of people to follow, I think that the movie would have worked just as well with ten more minutes with the board game in order to better understand the rules. Speaking of that, one nitpick I have is that we don’t seem to have a clear set of rules. This is by no means a mortal sin, it just would have been nice to understand the game as an audience member since that could have led to more interesting situations where we could know more than the players in a sense of dramatic irony.
Enough moaning, now for the good. As I stated before, this movie is truly terrifying in that “John Carpenter’s Halloween” sort of style that you know something is wrong but you can’t put your finger on it until it’s too late. I won’t post any spoilers here, but there is a particular build up to a scare that paid off immensely when it finally hit. Another positive aspect of Beyond the Gates is the cast, all of whom bring their A-game to their respective roles. The brothers and girlfriend characters were spectacular, but I need to give a shout to Barbara Crampton who played Evelyn (the woman on the VHS tape). I can still see those horrifying eyes when I sleep. Finally, the effects, though limited, were used well. They allow for a moment of true horror to contrast the more regular scenes. And when things go all out crazy, you’re in for quite the show.
All in all, this was a great movie. Yes, I wish that it was paced a little better. But I would be damned if this isn’t one of the scariest movies that I’ve seen in the past few years. Have you seen Beyond the Gates? If so, what did you think? Comment down below and get a conversation going. I’ve been Superguy, and you’ve been awesome! Just remember: don’t get gutless or brainless.