Martin Scorsese. Darren Aronofsky. Christopher Nolan. Jon Favreau. Kathryn Bigelow. What do all these directors have in common? They all made their bones in independent movies before becoming household names. Making an independent movie has become easier since Scorsese or even Nolan started making movies. Kickstarter and other crowd sourcing sites have made it easier to raise funds for movies. Digital technology and streaming has made it easier to get the movie to the masses. Easier, but there’s still a lot of hard work involved in making an independent movie.
Independent movies and horror have gone hand to hand for decades. George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead is arguably the definition of independent horror movie. In 1981, a young Sam Raimi and a group of friends traveled to Morristown, TN to make the movie that would change most of their lives forever. Independent horror movies are still going strong today.
Beyond the Gates
Remember when VCR/VHS board games were all the rage? Neither do I. The concept behind these games is pretty straightforward. Players role dice to move their pieces across the board. The player is prompted to play the included video tape when he or she lands on the right space. The pre-recorded scene is played and the player is instructed to do whatever the actor(s) tells them to do.
Beyond the Gates takes its name from such a board game discovered by Gordon and John Hardesty, two brothers, while cleaning out their father’s video store. It’s a mom and pops store, the kind jammed with every kind of movie imaginable. It’s the kind of small independently owned video store Blockbuster put out of business across the nation. It seemed like every town had one. Cinema fans knew these were the stores to go to because the employees really knew their movies.
It doesn’t take too long for Gordon, John, and Gordon’s girlfriend, Margot, to put the pieces together that their father’s disappearance is linked to the game. In order to save their father the trio have to play the game. It’s easier said than done. When the game is started it wants to be finished. In order to finish the game lots of bad things happen.
Filmed for an estimated $300,000 Beyond the Gates is as independent of a movie as it gets. Director Jackson Stewart and crew have created a movie beyond the budget. Not only has Stewart created a horror movie with atmosphere, but he’s managed to capture an 80’s feel without being overt about it. The 80’s inspired synthesizer brings back memories of 80’s horror movies that are sure to be found on the shelves of the Hardesty’s video store. Although there is no Crypt Keeper and not an anthology, Beyond the Gates still has a Tales from the Crypt vibe. Anyone who likes or grew up with 80’s horror movies will enjoy Beyond the Gates‘s nostalgic feel and old school gore.
Beyond the Gates is streaming on Netflix and other streaming services. Watch it and don’t forget to support independent cinema. While you’re here check out these other reviews of independent horror movies: Love in the Time of Monsters and Black Mountain Side.