BEYOND THE GATES (REVIEW)
Dir. Jackson Stewart
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
BEYOND THE GATES joins the ranks as one of 2017’s throwbacks to a simpler time for cinema. When two brothers, after losing their father, come across a video board game, the lure to play becomes to irresistible. Presented by 80’s icon Barbara Crampton, the mysterious game begins to blend reality and fantasy like no game before it and before long the brothers are battling friends to the death in search of completion of the game.
In a time when we have STRANGER THINGS, THE VOID and IT FOLLOWS, it’s hard to avoid nostalgic cinema but here, despite heavy marketing and its subject, fails to cash-in on something special. Set today, there’s not even a raised synth amidst the bloodshed and while it takes nearly an hour to kick in, even the final twenty minutes manage to disappoint.
There is a fantastic premise behind BEYOND THE GATES, one that screams nostalgia and fun but instead feels like a mandatory slog of Monopoly with the distant family you avoid. A movie that is pitched so much in the 80’s abandons the era completely in favour of a generic modern movie that has death but no substance.
None of the central characters have a remote grasp of likeability and their motives for playing a video board game which ultimately is the plot device that leads to an obscure reality being unleashed on them, one that never gels with the audience as having any meaningful connection with the boys finding their father, at least not until the closing moments and even then, it comes too late.
Despite a few gory deaths, and very gory they are, there’s little in between to keep you interested in the unfolding events that have no drama or tension about them. A shame as such a simple concept and much potential is wasted in a time when 80’s nostalgia is a wanton gift.
If you want some cinematic horror with a flashback to the age of Carpenter, Yuzna and Dante then there are many better choices than this. If you want a good modern horror, there are even more.