Friday, August 5, 2022



Niall Owens

Gateway demonstrates that you can tell an effective ghost story with very little in the way of special effects. Gateway communicates it horror almost entirely through careful composing of shots and by the uncanny way in which its specters behave. A lot of modern horror give us ghost as just another monster meant to chase people around in dynamic ways. They lack a sense of being unearthly and that’s where Gateway succeeds.

A group of men who are looking for a spot to move their marijuana growing operation, find an abandoned house in excellent shape, but with one door that will not open. Mike (Tim Creed) is one of these people and he’s in a bad way, his sister’s murder haunts him constantly. The group feels watched and stressed inside the house, the locked door begins to open for certain people who end up dead shortly after, and then the spirts come walking up the stairs and things get really bad.


This is an aggressively brown movie.

Gateway is a hell of a slow burn. It opens like a low-key crime drama, and it’s the first half-hour that will test a lot of viewers' patience. This is a very low budget production, as demonstrated by some iffy sound engineering and a lot of standing around and talking. After the movie gets everyone in the house things pick up considerably. Everything about the film improves, from the pacing to the sound design.

The supernatural elements are never given adequate explanation. They exist outside of such mortal concerns. Any answers given only lead to further questions. We long to learn what’s behind the door and it is held tantalizingly in front of us for a while. Once we do get to see, we are only left with, ‘well what is beyond that?’.  Also, at this point a couple of black clad and utterly silent beings begin to appear in the house and rather than shrieking and chasing people around they go about their own strange business which is far more sinister.


"We saw you across the threshold of life and and
unlife and we liked your vibe."


The human element is primarily carried by Mike’s story, he’s the one under pressure to make the grow operation work or he’s going to be on the wrong end of a gangster, he’s the one with a dead sister and accompanying sleep paralysis. Mike is so well developed that the rest of cast falls by the wayside. I suppose the focus on him is necessary in the early 1/3 of the film because he’s literally all we have to sit with as this entire criminal enterprise is revealed to us.

Gateway was a delightful discovery, a genuinely unsettling supernatural story and unsettling in a way that I don’t see often. The crime drama element feels a little half-baked, but it is an excuse to get a bunch of people who don’t trust each other into a death trap of a house.

Maybe it isn’t death, maybe it is something far worse.

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