In many ways this film was made for me. This is a Late 80s/Early 90s nostalgia throwback to the days of VHS stores and bad horror with a story involving board games, daddy issues, and a great Barbara Crampton cameo. If this film can’t win me over, odds are it isn’t going to work on anyone. Still, while those elements did make it watchable, they didn’t do much beyond that.
Now I will give it to first time director Jackson Stewart: this film has heart. It is abundantly clear from the beginning that this film is a dream come true for him to get to make and I can almost empathically feel the tears of joy he shed when Crampton signed on to the role of the strange, otherworldly woman in white. Also, he got a good gets for a throwback horror film with Graham Skipper. Skipper was great in The Mind’s Eye, and with a small role in Carnage Park, he seems to be carving out a nice little niche for himself in the throwback horror films that are all the rage right now.
Still, while there are some great moments in this film, they are few and far between. The first act drags so much that despite the 80 minute runtime, the film still feels padded. Beyond that, the acting just failed to work here. I could see that they were going for the bad acting of 80s films to add to the vibe, but it just didn’t work. Because instead of hamming it up (one of the things that made The Mind’s Eye work so well), everyone here just comes off as bored. Which is odd as based on the cast and the project, I have to imagine everyone on board was having a lot of fun. But that just doesn’t transfer into the film.
It pains me to shit on this film. It really does. Because the premise is there. The passion is obviously there. The cast is there. Even the story was pretty solid. But the execution just really didn’t pay off. While a personal connection to the time period kept me interested enough to keep watching it, Beyond The Gates just never won me over to its side (as much as I really wanted it to).