Whatever You Do, Do Not Open… – The Gate (1987)

Stephen Dorff is a crybaby. To be fair, the tears she are by his character Glen who cannot seem to keep it check. He does not like being levitated, he misses his parents, he accidentally kills his dog, he wants to shoot rockets and he is scared of the big, bad monsters he let loose back into our dimension – which was an accident of course. Now those monsters are looking to rule the Earth and destroy humanity, so long as they are able to get two blood sacrifices first. It is at this point where the entire crux of the movie comes into play – the moment where it is hero versus villain, good guy against bad guy, and little boy against old, elder god-like beings to prevent them from killing us all. Think Henry Thomas in E.T. except E.T. was Cthulhu instead and not the-gate-10quite as friendly meaning no nighttime bike rides. It almost seems impossible that Glen would be able to defeat the creature, but given that he is a pure soul and the movie essentially spells it out earlier on, the ending is seen coming a million miles away.

That is not to say that it is a bad film, but for a horror movie, there is very little present. It almost seems as if this one is geared towards the younger crowd and there are a few moments where the kids watching might cower in terror, but for anyone above the age of fifteen, the movie fails in that respect. What it does manage to do quite successfully though is hold your interest. No matter how many times you think you have seen this film, for it is highly clichéd from its first moment to its last, you cannot help but watch in fascination, wondering if Glen, Terry and Alexandra are going to come out of this alive or not. Thomas Vámos does a great job on the cinematography, creating the atmosphere needed to showcase a demon coming from a literal pit and overall, the-gate-12while it is not essentially scary, it is somewhat eerie.

The special effects are really well done considering it looks as though the creatures were made using good old-fashioned stop-motion and you could not ask for better. They were inventive on the whole and actually added quite a bit of levity to the film in a Gremlins kind of way. Dorff does a good job playing opposite them and it gives the film a kind of magic because if the movie had been made today, a lot of the charm would have been lost. If you have seen one ‘small child against the big bad’ type of film, you have pretty much seen them all, but there is something about The Gate which makes it easy to revisit on multiple occasions. What really would have put this movie over the top was if the parents had arrived home at the end to discover the state of the house and seeing the kids trying to explain it all. As it is, The Gate is a monster movie that ends up being highly enjoyable even if it is not all that frightening.

3 out of 5

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