Plot: Glen (Stephen Dorff) is a normal kid, but he has been having some odd dreams that center on his backyard. A tree was just removed, one that held his tree house and after, there’s a hole left behind. This hole seems ominous to Glen, as he gets weird vibes just from looking in that direction. He and his friend Terry (Louis Tripp) investigate a little and uncover an unusual geode, but neither know what to make of it. Soon however, things take a darker turn when a party at his house results in some spooky games, some of which involve incantations. Soon Terry thinks he sees the ghost of his dead mother, then Glen’s beloved dog dies, but Terry is convinced this is just the start and that a dark, demonic power is responsible. He is also certain that heavy metal has a role in this whole mess, but can the friends somehow formulate a plan to battle back the demons and reclaim the backyard?
Entertainment Value: This one is quite tame by horror standards, but The Gate has some fun scenes and is a good genre pick for younger viewers. The narrative deals with demons and incantations and such, but buries the mysticism inside heavy metal, which defuses the occult vibes and keeps the tone light. That’s not to say there’s no frightful moments, but The Gate never goes for straight up scares and just teases, as even the demons look cute and somewhat ridiculous. The bond between Glen and Terry drives the movie and the friendship has a natural feel, so it is fun to watch the two friends work together to fend off the demonic presence. I like that the movie treats the kids like kids, not genius problem solvers, but just kids who happen to live close to a hellish portal and aren’t allowed to launch toy rockets. The performances are good, with Stephen Dorff, Jennifer Irwin, Christa Denton, and Kelly Rowan on board, but Louis Tripp steals the show as metal loving nerd Terry. He might not be the lead in this one, but he is the heart of the movie and adds a lot to the entertainment value. I think The Gate is a solid, though tame horror flick with plenty of 80s vibes to go around.
No nakedness. The movie has no sexual content and seems aimed at a younger audience, so the lack of sleaze makes sense. A few scenes involve blood, such as a barbie doll fueled incident, a glass shard poke, and a nasty splinter, but none of it is graphic or involves that much bloodshed. As I said before, the demons are more adorable than anything, but they’re well designed and look quite cool. I love the scenes with hordes of them dashing around. But we do have a dusty old undead dude, who looks gross and melts a little, so there’s some solid effects work to soak in. The dialogue includes teen lingo and occult mumbo jumbo, but the real gems belong to Terry. He has some humorous lines here, no real big quotable moments, but he’s a fun character. As for craziness, the cute demons and accidental satanism are worth some points, but The Gate mostly plays within the usual genre boundaries.
Overall Insanity: 1/10