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Review Beyond the Gates (2016): Uneven but fun throwback to Eighties horror!

genre: horror, adventure

Beyond the Gates is made for a specific audience and therefore might be lost on people who aren't the intended audience. So who is the target audience? People like me who have grown up in the Eighties and people who appreciate that incredibly special and creative decade. Beyond the Gates very heavily depends on this love for the Eighties and the nostalgia factor since as a standalone horror flick it doesn't quite deliver.

Is that a bad thing? In this case it certainly isn't. The Eighties style and atmosphere is easily the main draw. Everything else is just secondary or trivial. Naturally I would have liked a better written script and perhaps a little more spectacle. But despite the film's flaws I never stopped liking the film. Even the slow pacing and illogical actions of the main characters never made me dislike the production. Director Jackson Stewart shows promise and I hope he will continue making films like this and I am sure of it that if he does he will make that one film that will steal the hearts of many people.

The story is simple. Two estranged brothers come together to clean up their father's video store who has been missing for a while now. They both assume he is death and won't be returning. They have their reasons for thinking that. During the clean up they discover this VCR board game and strange things start to happen. It is very obvious that the film did not have a large budget and therefore is limited to showing the bare minimum. But believe it or not that is part of the film's charm. It is asked of you to use your imagination a little more than usual. In general I favour the show, don't tell principle only in this case it would not have made a real difference to the overall vibe so I was very happy to let my imagination go. And trust me I have a pretty wild one. The film does have a few surprises for you in store so you will be rewarded somewhat for your patience. I was also glad to see that I am not the only one who misses VCR's and video (rental) stores. I spent hours browsing through the titles. Looking at the covers. Reading the back covers. Then deciding whether to rent it or not. When in doubt you would ask the clerk for his opinion on the movie. Often it would lead to pleasant discussions about movies and other things. There was a whole social aspect to it that is lost now.

So yes for me Beyond the Gates was a fun viewing experience but it won't be for everyone.

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