The first game/VHS combination I ever played was Clue VCR Mystery Gamefrom 1985. It was an odd thing with goofy acting and some new characters including Miss Peach. But board games featuring VHS prompts were a bit of a thing in the late 80s and early 90s. And one of those inspired a trip Beyond the Gates.
Two brothers, Gordon (Graham Skipper) and John (Chase Williamson) are packing up the family video store after their father disappears. We learn that both brothers have some issues with each other, not to mention their dad. Maybe this little project will bring them closer together.
Instead they find an old VHS board game called Beyond the Gates in their father’s office. The tape is just sitting in the VCR, as if it was the last thing their father watched before he vanished. The brothers start to play the tape as a bit of a lark – and find out that there is something very dangerous about this game. You see the lady in the television (played with verve by Barbara Crampton) seems like she can see them. Each move brings new dangers, and quite a bit of blood. Will the Hardesty brothers survive this trip Beyond the Gates?
- Crampton is having a good old time as the enthusiastic host of the game
- When the film focuses on fun, it handles itself well
- Some effective gore and horror moments
- Spends a bit too much time with the family drama set up.
- Some of the acting is a bit questionable.
- The tone shifts wildly from deep family drama to over the top gore and laughs
I really like what they were going for. Imagine if you asked Sam Raimi to write and direct it Jumanji. Parts of the film play out that way. But focus on the brother’s angst and drama takes over too many scenes. If they had focused a bit more on the fun concept, as hinted at in those oh so 80s opening credits, I think the whole movie would have worked better. It is an enjoyable time.
Scores(out of 5)
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