The Horror Show

Facebook Twitter Google

Beyond the Gates
by Jackson Stewart

Way back in the late 80' and early 90's, board games were so very square. Then someone out there in toy land decided to make them hip with the kids by adding a VHS tape mechanic to the game. My favorite of these games was called Nightmare, later changed to Atmosfear. It was a board game that was moderated by The Gatekeeper, a Belarusian actor wearing a cloak and giving an over the top performance; it was goofy and kind of spooky. I took the game with me everywhere, I was always looking for an excuse to lure my friends into the world of The Gatekeeper! I knew every one of The Gatekeeper's tricks. I knew his jump scares. I knew his bad puns. However, my friends didn't and that made my sadistic heart happy! This game was the best!

When I found out about Beyond the Gates I was taken back to the sleepovers and game nights with my hooded friend in the video cassette. This was going to be the horror version of Jumanji that nobody asked for but everyone deserves.

Beyond the Gates is the story of two brothers, Gordon and John, with complete opposite personalities dealing with the aftermath of their father's disappearance. The brothers have to take care of their father's affairs like selling the family home and clearing out the family business, a mom and pop type video store. While clearing out the office of the store they stumble across a VHS board game called Beyond the Gates. The tape was still in the VCR. Was this the last thing their dad watched? Would this give them a clue to what happened? When they play the tape we see Evelyn, the game's Mistress. She is cryptic and creepy. As soon as she tells the boys to open the game board, the tape starts to strobe like a bad disco rave. Later, at a dinner with Gordon and his girlfriend, Margot, John pulls out the game and they all decide to play it. It becomes obvious very quickly that the game is the reason for their father's disappearing act and if they want to ever see him again they would have to play the game, travel beyond the gates, and save his soul.

The characters were not complex at all, they were just simple. I was introduced to them and knew instantly who they were. You knew who to hate and who to feel compassion for, no complicated back story needed. Don't get me wrong, I love complex characters, but in a horror movie with a run time of 84 minutes it's just a waste of time. The writers nailed this.

The effects are amazing! I know I've said it a thousand times, but practical effects are the best and this movie does it right. There are a few places where they gave the blood a little oomph with CGI and it is noticeable, but it is forgivable. There is one scene where a nasty character gets his comeuppance. It’s gross, it’s bloody, it’s beautiful!

Beyond the Gates gave me a nostalgic rush. It felt like a real love letter to those crappy VHS board games and to VCR culture as a whole. It was so much fun to watch and I recommend it hands down, I love this movie with every fiber of my being! Now, who wants to play Nightmare with me?

Robin Thompson, HMS

The Horror Show Menu.