Quick Hit: This 80s throwback about a VHS board game is a fun time full of nostalgia.
I’ll defend 1980s horror to absolutely anyone. It’s my favorite horror decade. I see it as some of the best practical gore (along with the tail end of the seventies) that ever existed. I love that horror comedies blended into the genre, and then exploded in popularity. And you know what? Despite being made released in 2016, Beyond the Gates has horror written all over it. It’s got the 80s stamp all over it.
First, the movie is about a VHS board game. Now I’ve never played one of these, but I kind of see it like those “Choose Your Own Horror” Goosebumps books, or kind of like the video game that Tom Hanks plays in Big. Second, the movie has freaking Barbara Crampton – who I consider horror royalty for her roles in Stuart Gordon’s Re-animator and From Beyond – and she’s awesome in a wide-eyed kind of way. Second, the acting is pretty eighties – wide eyes, stilted lines, and periodic, extremely effective practical effects.
I’ve written before about how it’s extremely important to take what the movie is trying to do into account when giving a review. Otherwise, you could be completely missing the point of the movie. And no, I’m not talking about when directors say “I made it for the fans”. I’m talking about when you’re trying to make a horror film, you play by the horror rules. When you are trying to make a horror comedy, you stretch that out a bit. Beyond The Gates excels at both – there are definite rules to this horrific game, and there’s also the comedy that comes with a movie made in 2016 about a VHS store. It’s meant to have awkward moments, and so you accept them as what they are.
The biggest complaint that I had about the movie was that the ending felt rushed. Up until that moment, the movie had really taken its time explaining the game, spent time explaining some of the backstory, giving the characters motivation, etc. By rushing through a climax (maybe for budgetary concerns? I don’t know), they sacrifice what could have been a much more morally satisfying climax. And I would have loved to see more Crampton. By leaving her on the television, you limit some of what her effectiveness probably could have been.
Do I think this movie is for everyone? Absolutely not – it’s a movie made for a specific audience, and I fit that niche well. It’s got horror clichés all over it, and that will turn some people off. And as I stated before, the dialogue can come off as stilted and poorly delivered. But I had a fun time watching it. You can stream it on Netflix, and watch yourself a true “B” movie (see what I did there guys?).
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"