The Gateway Meat (Ron DeCaro, 2008)
[note: review originally published 29Nov2008]
The Gateway Meat, a movie so obscure it hasn’t even found its way to IMDB yet [ed. note: this has since been rectified. As I write this, it even has 28 votes!], has been getting a lot of press at underground horror sites, and it’s overwhelmingly positive. Horror Society says “Ron [director Ron DeCaro] has delighted us with… the final episode of the Brightside Trilogy” and goes on to exclaim over the gore effects. (“If anyone can dish out the gore with as much realism and quantity as Ron can, then let me shake their hand!” Mr. Reviewer, meet Mr. Iskanov.) FearZone calls it “easily one of the best and one of the most disturbing, vicious, unrelenting, and brutal indie films I’ve ever seen.” I have to say, I wouldn’t go quite that far. I can’t argue with the gore factor– DeCaro is certainly working on the same level of special effects as Iskanov, Hino, and Mous before him– but the rest of the movie leaves something to be desired.
The plot: a family of Satanists, headed by Marcus (DeCaro), move into the house of Marcus’ recently-deceased father. Dad, it seems, was also a Satanist, and was trying to open a portal to hell. Marcus wants to carry on the family business, so he’s selling his condo, which he allows his friend the Brightvale Butcher to look after and keep clean for when the real estate agent shows it. (Do you see the obvious problem with this idea?) Marcus becomes more and more obsessed with the portal, to the point of neglecting his familial obligations, which involve teaching his daughter (played by DeCaro’s own daughter) to torture, kill, etc. You know what they say– the family that slays together stays together. In any case, Marcus is convinced that a local mentally-challenged man named Bahtoe can open the portal. (One of the best lines in the movie comes from the Brightvale Butcher, who snorts, “this guy can rip portals?”) The problem for Marcus is figuring out exactly how to get Bahtoe to open the portal.
Note that I pieced all this together after a couple of hours’ worth of reflection after I watched the movie, and I did have to resort to the FearZone and Horror Society reviews to get a few pieces to fall into place. This is the final installment of a trilogy, it seems, and Horror Society is right when they say this will probably be disjointed if you haven’t seen the two shorts that precede it. I may have to track them down and watch this again afterwards to see if it makes more sense that way.
The movie’s strong point is obvious: the gore. The guys who did the effects for August Underground are back, and bloodier than ever. I’m not sure it is (as another site proclaims) one of the ten goriest films ever made, but if you limit yourself to just North America, yeah, probably. And the gore effects are certainly realistic enough (as I said previously, on a par with… etc.). In that respect, it stands head and shoulders over a number of the microbudget American gore flicks I’ve seen recently.
Its weak points are a bit more problematic. A lot of sites have talked about how good the acting in this movie is. I’m not sure if we saw the same movie. The obvious examples are the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who look more like what they are (friends of the director having a fine time being in the movie) than what they should be (terrified young people about to lose their lives in horrible ways). DeCaro does a pretty good job as Marcus; I do get the change his character goes through as the movie progresses, but the other decent acting jobs are either static characters (the Brightvale Butcher, who stands as Marcus’ foil in that he is simply and irredeemably evil) or minor characters (Marcus’ father, seen in flashback). The movie is also paced more like a conventional thriller than a gore film; gore films, since the gore is really the star, we need to have body parts flying thick and fast. It’s admirable that DeCaro wanted to spend time on Marcus’ character development, but the end result is that the movie does tend to lag in places, especially towards the beginning.
It’s a promising start to Ron DeCaro’s career; there’s nothing wrong here that can’t be fixed by experience. Not for the weak of heart– or stomach– but interesting, in a revolting sort of way. ** ½