Beyond the Gates (2016)

Beyond the Gates is the type of independent horror movie that make investigating the genre so much fun. Despite operating with a limited budget, director Jackson Stewart makes it seem like he didn’t need even one more cent: Keeping the sets limited but effective, Stewart manages to weave a spooky tale about an estranged family and a haunted boardgame, which sounds far sillier than it actually is. The boardgame itself is well designed and the rules of the game are fairly straightforward, and Stewart has a knack with nuanced dialogue and pregnant pauses, and he’s well-served by a talented cast that keeps things moving without histrionics. In particular, genre favorite Barbara Crampton is well cast and makes eerie, unsettling appearances throughout the movie. It’s not high art but it’s a lot of fun, like a low-budget horror version of “Jumanji.”

Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)

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