“Beyond the Gates of Hell” is an indie horror film that tells the story of a young couple that moves into a new house only to discover that someone or something is lurking in the basement.
The film’s plot seems very simple and could easily be described as overused particularly for the genre of horror. Writer and director Dustin Ferguson however attempts to put his unique spin on this almost familiar tale.
Before the film gets to its main plot, you are warmed in with some classic-styled trailers of zombie films. Even by the time the film ends, it is not clear why you are introduced to the film with those trailers. Perhaps the only reason could be to sort of set the tone for the storytelling style Ferguson used for this film.
The main story then starts when we are introduced to Katrina (played by Traci Burr) and Ian (played by Eric Larsen). The newly married couple are in the process of closing a purchase of a mansion in the countryside that they intend to use for a bed and breakfast as well. However, Sheryl (played by Brinke Stevens), their realty agent is quick to warn them about the brutal murders and unexplainable supernatural activities that have happened in the home in the past. But the couple decides they are still going to state and make the best out of the house.
The mysterious events start to follow almost immediately and then the story unfolds.
The overall acting in this film feels subpar with no specific standouts. All the characters seem quirky and out of place and it is difficult to place if it is all part of the performance of just bad acting. Perhaps that too could be attributed to the style of storytelling that was used. This becomes more obvious as other characters are introduced. Some of these characters seem to be written out as fast as they are introduced leaving the audience with not enough time to understand how exactly they are significant to the film.
The film generally feels quirky and a bit cheesy almost reminiscent of classic gore horror films. But it’s not about the gore or the jump scares with this film.
Interestingly, the first few minutes into the core of the film, it appears and feels more like a film about paranormal activities than a typical Zombie film. As the story proceeds you are left with many more questions about what is happening and why they are happening.
Ferguson also chooses a confusing lut to overlay the visuals. From start to finish, the film has an old, scratchy 8mm film look to it. Perhaps that choice was to further enhance the haunted rustic vibe the mansion needed to complete the film. Surprisingly, however, this does not work to the advantage of the film. In many ways, it rather seems to add up to the sloppiness that further shows that the film was made on a very lean budget.
The film’s entire runtime including opening and closing credits is 52 minutes. Although it feels as though the story was not going anywhere, how the film ends comes across as though the climax was forced and rushed with no proper resolution.
I would rate this film 5/10.
Beyond the Gates of Hell might leave a sour taste in the mouths of some viewers but its playful tone might just be enough to win the hearts of some fans of the genre and style.
It doesn’t rely on cheap scares or gore; instead, it presents unexplained mysteries and surprises that leave room for interpretation. As the movie concludes, viewers are left pondering the fate of the characters and the true nature of the unexplained mysterious occurrences.
If you are a fan of the horror genre, do watch this film and share your thoughts on it as well.