Genre: Horror, Thriller
Year Released: 2023
Runtime: 1h 51m
Director(s): Stephen Hall
Writer(s): Stephen Hall, Tim Reynolds
Cast: John Rhys-Davies, Richard Brake, Michael Yare, Elena Delia
Where To Watch: UK premiere on July 3, 2023, from 101 Films
RAVING REVIEW: Strap in as we embark on an expedition into the shadowy realm of THE GATES. We wade through the maze of Victorian London, meticulously crafted by director Stephen Hall and scriptwriter Tim Reynolds. Combining elements of the grim, the spiritual, and the scientific, they weave a narrative tapestry against the dark canvas of the 19th century. The solid performances of John Rhys-Davies and Richard Brake emanated from the fog.
Step back into the year 1892. The mists of London shroud a city trapped in a brutal series of murders. William Colcott (Richard Brake), the perpetrator of these atrocities, meets a chilling demise in the firm grip of an electric chair. But death is not the end for Colcott; with his last gasp, he births a dreadful curse that swaddles the prison named 'The Gates' in an ominous cloud.
We meet Frederick Ladbroke (John Rhys-Davies) and Emma Wickes (Elena Delia.) Alongside Lucian Abberton (Michael Yare,) a cryptic medium, they're tasked with diffusing the malevolent havoc stirred by Colcott's resentful specter.
Encapsulating the essence of its historical context, THE GATES intricately intertwines spiritual and scientific elements. Rhys-Davies and Brake inject new life into the age-old horror genre. They dismantle the cookie-cutter narrative norms, making this feature more of a quirky scare montage than a worn-out ghost story.
The plot advances quickly in the film's early stages, reminiscent of a horse-and-carriage chase, before transitioning to a slower, more atmospheric storytelling approach with a slow burn. Each character is a well-sketched portrait, their nuances more than compensating for any slowdown in the narrative's momentum. Historical accuracy may occasionally be thrown to the wind, but the movie ensures viewers remain anchored.
THE GATES' high point is its auditory wizardry; the film's soundtrack and sound design knit an unseen web of suspense that enshrouds the audience, consistently maintaining intrigue even when the ensemble's acting beats miss a step.
Brake's unsettling rendition of Colcott adds depth to the film's horror quotient, even if the character could have used more exploration. While THE GATES has its shining moments, particularly the atmospheric narrative and high-stakes sequences like the opening scene, it stumbles with maintaining a steady grip on its plot towards the climax, leading to a dip in its cinematic quality.
In reflection, THE GATES is a decently spun supernatural yarn. It's a tale far from flawless yet harbors enough suspense and robust performances to merit a viewing. Though the historical premise needs more refinement and the subplots could be fleshed out better, the movie's natural prowess lies in its charged ambiance and captivating storyline. From the minute the opening credits roll until the closing scene, it keeps audiences hooked. Ultimately, it may only be a two-and-a-half stars out-of-five film, but it is a testament that an average flick can still provide a unique viewing experience for the everyday viewer.
For more reviews, please visit – https://linktr.ee/Overlyhonestmoviereviews for more info.
Follow me on Letterboxd, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. Find my social media accounts on most platforms simply by searching Overly Honest Movie Reviews.
I’m always happy to hear from my readers; please say hi or send me any questions about movies.
[photo courtesy of 101 FILMS]