Friday, October 20, 2017

BEYOND THE GATES (2016) Blu-ray review

Beyond the Gates (2016) d. Stewart, Jackson (USA) (1st viewing) 82 min

When their video store-owning father goes missing, two brothers (Graham Skipper, Chase Williamson) are tasked with handling his affairs. Amidst the clutter, they come across a strange relic from the 1980s in the form of an old board game that uses a VHS tape to provide cues and moves. Upon popping it into the ancient player, a strange onscreen hostess (Barbara Crampton) begins to dictate commands that feel a little too organic to be pre-recorded. Soon they, along with the elder brother’s girlfriend (Brea Grant), are sucked into another dimension where the line between reality and nightmare becomes as blurry and fuzzy as the old-school 1/2" magnetic tape itself.

Credit director Stewart and his co-writer Stephen Scarlata for managing to embrace the nostalgia and invoke that bygone era without doing a full-on period piece and/or "throwback." Unfortunately, unlike the films they are attempting to emulate (think classic Charles Band/Empire), there’s a whole lot of chit-chat and “character building” instead of diving headlong into the wackadoo plot and generating as many wild scenarios onscreen within its brief runtime.

Considering the possibilities are literally limitless given the premise of a fantasy-based board game, the soup is thin indeed, with only the final scene fulfilling its unhinged potential. There are a couple of laudably grand gore moments in the lead-up which, in a less-crowded field, might have provided more traction amongst the '80s-loving fanboys and fangirls, but in this day, more is more and I personally needed more.

Now, that said, if BTG is your cuppa blood, Shout! Factory and IFC Midnight have given the supplements full rein, with four, count ’em, FOUR COMMENTARY TRACKS, allowing Stewart to share mic time with Crampton, Scarlata, Williamson, Skipper, Grant, Jesse Merlin, DP Brian Sowell, and production assistant Dan Fisk on three of the tracks, while the fourth is hosted by Junk Food Dinner podcast honchos Kevin Moss, Parker Bowman, and Sean Byron. Additional goodies include a behind-the-scenes featurette, several deleted scenes, a Q&A following the film’s premiere hosted by Stuart Gordon, a faux vintage commercial plugging the film’s VHS board game, and the theatrical trailer.

Beyond the Gates is available now on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory and can be ordered HERE:


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