Under the Radar
Upon surfing Netflix for something to fit "under the radar", I stumbled on this 'Jumanji' sounding movie about a board game that holds secrets that effect the outside world. I figured why not, watched it, and my opinion at the end of the day is... mixed.
Upon learning that their father is missing, two estranged brothers, Gordon (Graham Skipper) and John (Chase Williamson), come together at their dad's old video store to pack things in and sell off his stuff. Gordon finds a key that unlocks their Dad's back office where they discover a video board game called 'Beyond the Gates'.
The game is brought over to Gordon and his Wife, Margot's (Brea Grant) house where they decide to start playing it. They soon learn that the game intends to lead them to their missing father, and despite dire consequences the game seems to carry with it, the group (more specifically the brothers) stop at nothing to find their dad.
Now, to get into my mixed feelings on the film. The overall concept was something enjoyable. It managed to do the whole board-game-come-to-life concept without really ripping anything off. For a large part of it, the brothers don't fully realize what's going on outside of the game, and this time around it's a video board game. These were a big hit back in the late 80s and early 90s, perhaps most famous of which was 'Nightmare' (along with many sequels).
I also have to appreciate the makeup effects here, which add some fairly over the top and freakish gore, and a great look to some of the more demonic entities throughout the climactic portion of the film. Hell even the actng throughout this otherwise low-budget flick isn't that bad. Not great, but not as bad as one might expect. But that's where the twist comes in for me.
It's good to see some of the drama here, but there's a backstory that really goes nowhere (unless I just completely missed something) having to do with a prior drinking problem that Gordon had. It's touched on a few times through the movie, but it never really goes anywhere. It's just thrown in for us to try to sympathize with Gordon, as he regrets his actions so badly. I mean, I guess it's touching to see that he has something he's struggling with, but at the end of the day, it feels like filler.
That side story aside, I also think that one of the weaker actors here was Evelyn (Barbara Crampton), the host of the game. She represents the "name" for the movie. Every low budget movie needs some sort of a name to give it a bit of fuel. I've seen this actress in other things where she's been much better. She's barely intimidating here, and she could have done more to be more creepy. But I guess that's just how it was directed.
The film can be found on Netflix, so if you have an hour and a half to kill, you might wanna check it out for yourself. It's another one of those movies that I'm probably just gonna eventually forget about. Worth checking out once just to see it, but it certainly doesn't demand any kind of revisit either. It's a 3, but it's a low 3.