If you are a child of the 80s or 90s, no doubt you remember the fad of video board games, most of which were horror themed, most notably the infamous game Nightmare. The games would be guided by a sinister (and cheap looking) host on videotape who would tell players what to do in the game. Well it only took a couple of decades but a new movie, Beyond the Gates, takes its inspiration from these cult classic games and delivers a pretty damn funny horror comedy.
Two estranged brothers, Gordon and John Hardesty (Graham Skipper and Chase Williamson) reunite at their missing father’s video store to sell off the contents. While digging through the memories and reminiscing, they find a VCR board game called Beyond the Gates and decide to play it for nostalgia’s sake. While the game leads to clues about their father’s disappearance, they also find it has the ability to alter their reality itself and may have deadly consequences for anyone who plays it. But to find the truth about their father, they must face all the evil forces brought forth by the game.
Beyond the Gates is just insane nostalgic fun. Star Chase Williamson also starred in the bizarre and insanely fun horror comedy John Dies at the End which would also be a spectacular companion piece to this film for a double feature. Beyond the Gates has tons of retro humor, they even cast the wonderful Barbara Crampton from Re-Animator and The Beyond as the game host. Williamson and Skipper are great together and play off the horror with great humor. The laughs are solid, the horror is solid and the performances are solid, and the story is actually above average for a horror comedy of this type, with subtle themes of family, abuse and alcoholism. The thing that shines through the most though is the filmmakers love for all things 80s. The wonderful score is all synth and all retro and the overall aesthetic is a very loving tribute to a time gone by. Beyond the Gates is highly recommended, especially for anyone nostalgic for the days of VCR’s.