Posted on Nov 24th 2018 at 08:00:00 AM by (GrayGhost81)
Posted under review, movie, film, horror, vhs

While I remember VHS board games from the 1980s, I'm pretty sure I never played one. I remember a Wheel of Fortune game that was supposed to be played with the TV but instead of doing that, my family would just type phrases and proper titles into the game's handheld device and have another person try to solve the puzzle. I still have no idea how the VHS game was supposed to be played, and although there are playthroughs of it on YouTube, part of me doesn't want to know! The 2016 indie film Beyond the Gates explores the nostalgic world of VHS in general and VHS games in particular. Based on a fictional VHS board game which shares the title of the film, this gory horror movie will take its viewers to a new domain, but will it give them a good movie watching experience?

The film follows brothers Gordon and John, as they prepare to shut down their family video rental store after their father has gone missing. In a private office of the video store, the brothers find a mysterious VHS board game called Beyond the Gates. With Gordon's girlfriend Margot in tow, they decide to give the game a spin. As you can imagine, things don't go quite as planned. From this point, the plot unfolds slowly with a decent amount mystery and a surprising amount of gore.

One of the things I really enjoyed in this film is the way the relationships between the characters is largely subtextual. The writers did a great job of showing and not telling, allowing the viewer to read between the lines in more than a few instances. The problem is, at a short 83 minutes, the movie does not feel brisk at all due to very slow pacing, especially at the beginning of the movie. The acting by the three leads is decent, but definitely nothing special.

The film rides on two things, 80's nostalgia, and some decent gore in the second half. Though the film got a lot of buzz when it came out, reception is actually very mixed. At the time of this writing, the movie has an 84% critical rating but a 29% audience rating. Having seen the film, this makes sense to me in a way that although it is a cool premise, the movie has an extremely cheap feel to it. In a certain respect, this is understandable as the film cost a reported $300,000 to make. On the other hand, I have seen movies made this cheaply that looked markedly better.

The conflict between the critical and audience rating for this movie mirrors the conflict I have with this film. I happen to love cheap, "so bad it's good" entertainment. This is not that. It a sincerely made horror film that in many ways is drab and disappointing. On the other hand, the plot is somewhat original and the 80's nostalgia will keep many viewers engaged through the end.

In total, I give this film the absolute lightest of recommendations. Have you seen it? What did you think? As of the time of this writing, Beyond the Gates is available on Netflix in North America.

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DUDE!  Just watched it this year. Ha ha!
@singlebanana: I guess we'll be talking about this soon...
@GrayGhost81: Yeah, I figured as much. That's why I didn't offer my thoughts on it here. Smiley
I saw this movie about a year after it was out. Before seeing this movie I literally I had no idea VHS games were an actual thing. Which made it all the more retro and cool looking. I doubt I would get any of them but still its cool to thing about, like how they had some 80s and 90s laserdiscs as precursor to DVDs.

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