Do you all remember VCR board games? You would have a board game in front of you and a tape in the VCR. You move your pieces around on the board and hit play on the VCR to give you instructions. More often than not, the instructions are either irrelevant or confusing.
I never played many of them myself, but I do remember playing a football VCR game that made so little sense I’m pretty sure I quit less than 15 minutes in.
Now imagine that you miraculously have a VCR in this day-and-age, and that a mysterious VCR board game titled “Beyond The Gates” came into your life. Also, you’re a grown man with a troubled brother and your father has recently gone missing and maybe this board game has something to do with it and also your fiancé is Brea Grant and Barbara Crampton is the talking head in the game and she is obviously reacting to the things you say and winning the game may lead the horrifying deaths of some friends/acquaintances.
That’s a lot to imagine. I apologize for putting you all in that spot.
I didn’t really know what to expect heading into this movie. I hadn’t heard much, but Brea Grant seems to choose good projects and Barbara Crampton is Barbara Crampton, so I figured it would at least be worth a watch.
To round us out on familiar faces, one of the brothers was played by Chase Williamson (John Dies At the End, The Guest), who was terrific. Justin Welborn (The Final Destination, V/H/S Viral, Justified) showed up as an alcoholic sleazebag, which should surprise no one who has ever seen him in anything ever.
I went into this film with zero expectations and thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s not perfect. The ending in particular felt extremely abrupt; like the entire movie was building towards a momentous climax, then just kind of shrugged its shoulders and said, “This will work.”
But that was really my only major issue with it. It didn’t blow me away, but I enjoyed watching it. The performances were a lot of fun and there were some great visuals and some creative kills. The director – Jackson Stewart – obviously has a lot of love for 80s horror, and that love showed up here. It never felt forced or a parody of itself. It felt fun. It felt natural.
This wasn’t the best movie I’ve ever seen, but it was a lot of fun. And that has to count for something.