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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

LA Film Festival 2016: Beyond The Gates Review I'm Sorry I Let Down My Friends

Beyond The Gates is a horror film better as a concept and idea with little info and a lack of trailer then what appeared on screen. When I first heard of a film based on 80's horror centering on a VCR board game my mind reached out a thought I would enjoy an night of parodied horror. A some-what like Freddy Kreuger character, maybe having forks instead of metal claws. Jason, but with a umpire mask. Xenomorphs in an off-putting color and their eyes would be tiny mouths. All those dreams of 80's horror died with Beyond The Gates at the LA Film Festival.

Beyond The hurts because it starts off so well and realized with two brothers inheriting a video store. Their father has been missing for seven months and they have to get rid of the inventory at the store. It's set up like a drama and you grow a connection to the brothers Gordon (Graham Skipper) and John (Chase Williamson) with Gordon's girlfriend Margot (Brea Grant) making a trio. Gordon is uptight, John is care-free, it's a trope that launched a ton of sitcoms.

They soon find "Beyond The Gates" hidden in their Dad's store with a dark mystery surrounding their father disappearance tied to the VCR board game. Now this is where the story should have picked off into over-the-top homage to 80's horror, but it's a slow road to play the game. This hurt friends and myself who I told to see the film, which I apologize for as it wasn't near my idea or something else that would have made it worth seeing in theaters. It's what it is, which is independent film with a micro-budget and use of about four locations.

When we do have some realizations about the game being super-natural and some moments of blood shed going up on screen, it hurts even more as they're all too fleeting. Head explosions and guts getting ripped out are in there, there just aren't enough moments of them.

Wojciech Golczewski's synth score with the addition of the opening credits showing the process of inside a VCR only make it worse that the film is only on the surface and 80's horror like film. Forget nostalgia, it's only a gimmick to get you into the film. This is the debut feature film from dir. Jackson Stewart and it shows.

What made the film a bit of a delight though for me was the use of real LA locations, such as Eddie Brant's Saturday Matinee as the the video store used in the film and Bearded Lady Vintage & Oddities used as an occult store with a very spooky shopkeeper, Jesse Merlin, who you may now around LA from his performances in Re-Animator: The Musical. The cast including Merlin didn't do anything wrong, they just didn't get murdered as much as people wanted.

Still would have liked to play the VCR board game itself. An idea that could have been better if Sam Raimi type was at the helm.