Blu-ray Review: BEYOND THE GATES

BEYOND THE GATES was directed by Jackson Stewart and stars Graham Skipper, Chase Williamson, Brea Grant, Matt Mercer, Jesse Merlin, Justin Welborn, Sara Malakul Lane, Henry LeBlanc, and Barbara Crampton.

After their father’s unexplained disappearance, two estranged brothers – responsible Gordon (Graham Skipper) and reckless John (Chase Williamson) – reunite to sift through the contents of his stubbornly anachronistic VHS rental store. Among the inventory, they find an old interactive VCR board game. Intrigued, the brothers pop in the tape… and soon discover that this video is no ordinary game, but a portal to a nightmarish alternate reality, one with deadly consequences for anyone who dares to press ‘play.’

The opening scene takes place in the summer of 1992 and shows someone pressing play on this old and mysterious V/H/S tape that’s marked Beyond the Gates. We then fastforward and meet Gordon and John who are boxing up the inventory inside their missing father’s old video store when they run across this old board game. It doesn’t take long for them to see what’s inside the box and once they insert the videotape and press play, the mysterious hostess of the game (played wonderfully by Barbara Crampton) pops up on the television screen and guides them on a terrifying journey into darkness and Beyond the Gates. Gordon’s cute and likable girlfriend Margot (Brea Grant) also joins in on the creepy gaming adventure where the trio finds out just how deadly this board game can really get and there’s no way to back out of it. They also find out what happened to their father by playing. Once you start playing you have to finish – or else!

Okay, I was immediately fascinated with this indie horror movie when I watched the trailer way back. It reminded me of my childhood and a few of my favorite movies. The concept was really fresh and interesting and Jackson Stewart did a really good job bringing it all to life on screen. There’s great camera work, awesome cinematography, atmospheric lighting and a cool score to go along with it all. There’s also some great performances by Graham Skipper, Chase Williamson, Brea Grant and Matt Mercer. Indie horror fans will recognize all of these names. There’s also the always entertaining Jesse Merlin who brings a little creepy factor to the mix with his brief appearance and of course the one and only Barbara Crampton who serves as the hostess of Beyond the Gates. She’s portrays this beautiful and mysterious character who is only seen when the board game is being played but she plays an important part to what’s going on. There’s also some old school special effects used that include lots of blood and gore. Although, I would’ve been okay if there had been even more!

The front features the awesome artwork you see up top and the back includes movie details, some images and list of special features. The reverse sleeve features some alternate artwork of the board game and an image from the movie. The Blu-ray disc also features some matching artwork. Inserting the disc, the menu screen was simple and easy to navigate. The picture and sound quality for the high-definition disc were crisp and clear. I didn’t have any issues with the video and audio for this release.

Bottom line is, Beyond the Gates was a really fun watch and definitely reminded me of some of the classic horror favorites from the 80’s as well as a few others. To me Beyond the Gates is a mixture of Jumanji and The Gate with a little Beyond all rolled into one fun indie horror romp. We’ve only gotten a few movies over the years about board games and this is only the second horror movie to come along as far as I know so everything about it was fresh and original. The only gripe I have about it (and it’s a small one) is the first half of the movie was a little slow at times. The movie focuses more on the characters and their relationships in the beginning before the horror really begins so it stalls a little. Now, once the characters and their dire situation get established, things get retro cool and retro gory and it’s a boat load of old school craziness until the very end. Oh yeah, make sure you watch all the way through the end credits. It’s not much but there’s something (or someone) waiting on you. This Blu-ray is now available and worth checking out.

Distributor: Scream Factory and IFC Midnight

Run Time: 82 Minutes

Rated: Not Rated

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (2.40:1)

Blu-ray Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0

Subtitles: English SDH and Spanish

Special Features: Good Stuff! There’s all kinds of cool extras included on this release. We get some audio commentary with some of the cast and crew, a behind-the-scenes featurette, deleted scenes, a Q&A event, short film, trailer and an old school 80’s-style commercial which is freaking awesome.

  • Audio commentaries with director Jackson Stewart, actress Barbara Crampton and the cast and crew
  • Behind-the-Scenes featurette (10:59)
  • Deleted Scenes (02:49)
  • Premiere Q&A – Moderated by Stuart Gordon (17:28)
  • Sex Boss Short Film (05:32)
  • Theatrical Trailer (02:06)
  • Retro-style Beyond The Gates commercial (00:51)

 

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