All hail the VCR: the more or less obsolete technology that keeps on giving.
Videotapes and the machines that play them are frequent props in the current crush of nostalgia for the 1980s and ’90s. The latest example is the horror movie “Beyond the Gates,” which shows early promise but eventually ends up in the bin of ordinariness.
As the film opens, two brothers (Graham Skipper and Chase Williamson) are packing up their father’s old video-rental store. Director Jackson Stewart commendably takes his time getting to the scary stuff, spending a half-hour sketching out tensions between the brothers and planting doubts about what happened to the father, an alcoholic who has been missing for months.
In their father’s office, the brothers find an old VCR board game called Beyond the Gates, the kind that requires you to play a videotape that guides you through the game. Its onscreen hostess is played by Barbara Crampton, whose horror résumé goes back to the wonderfully demented 1985 film “Re-Animator,” and she’s fun to watch as she lures the brothers into a hellish alternate reality that requires them to play out the game to save their father’s trapped soul.
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By this point, though, a cheesiness has taken over the movie, squandering all that early potential. Getting retro right is harder than it seems.
(At Screenland Crossroads.)
‘Beyond the Gates’
Not rated. Time: 1:24.