They just don't make movies like this today. There was this 'thing' about the 80s where you could make a movie that was both immensely campy and still ridiculously awesome at the same time and never have to apologize for either. It's one of the reasons I miss the 80s style film and the reason that "The Gate" is such a classic in the genre.
Left at home with the parents gone for a weekend. If you were an 11 year old boy and his slightly older teenage sister, what would you do? Throw a party? Check. Stay up late? Check. Open a gate into Hell? Check. Cause that's what these kids do when an old tree is removed from the backyard and unleashes a series of off the wall/weird as fuck events that threatens to overrun the world with midget demons, visions of terror, and a giant 2 story old world God snake demon. Plot isn't going to be too intense, but its fun to just ride shotgun on this trip into Hell on Earth.
"The Gate" is a fun film. Watching this, its hard not to smile the entire time. I mean watching Stephen Dorff as this 11 year old kid obsessed with launching small plastic rockets and wanting to impress the teenagers just makes me smile. The idea that they learn about the gate to hell and how to close it from the booklet folds of a vinyl Heavy Metal album from "Sacrifyx" makes you smile. The off beat humor (sometimes very dark like with the dog situation and Terry's mom) makes you smile. Hell, even the damn solid pre-CGI special effects is going to slap a big ass grin on your face. Those little demons are both cute and utterly terrifying. It takes talent to ride that line. That's what "The Gate" does best - it has fun the entire time it plays out. Since it's having fun with itself, its almost guaranteed that you are going to have fun too.
Still, its not a perfect film. The logic jumps can be a little large. 'Hey guys, I know we just had to run and hide for our lives...but I thought I would invite the boys over for a party. Surprise! Wait, you want us to leave? Be real, Al!' Damn that part was a little much. And for the most part the film tends to be a little dated for its own good. The plot point of the plastic rockets tends to be a thing of the past a bit too much (although I know they still exist) and the Heavy Metal Satanist pull could work nowadays but not quite as easily. I was relatively surprised with the acting though, which sells some of it, particularly from our three main kids with specific nods to the older sister. Color me surprised indeed.
With all in all, said and done (what the fuck did I just say there?!) "The Gate" is just a fun film that succeeds on far more levels than it probably should have. The special effects are whack, the relatively simplistic story spins itself nicely, and the acting works for what it needs. Not to mention it takes a few chances that become very memorable concepts and scenes. The tiny demons and the ending King Demon make for impressive plot ideas. "The Gate" works...I kinda didn't want them to close it at the end.
Written By Matt Reifschneider