Gatehouse wraps itself into a fantastical tale set in the wilderness, with nature reclaiming what rightfully belongs to it, while discovering legends and strange sinister creatures as well as a ghost story, one thing it’s not, is a horror film, it’s more of a single widowed father and his daughter, from director and screenwriter Martin Gooch (Black Flowers (2018)). Uncork’d Entertainment distributed this feature, more geared towards a family tale of woe, than one of gore (just a hint of it makes a stain) and mayhem, all featured on a tiny budgeted, with monsters in both mystic design and human form, provide a mystery for one to watch.
The story concerns Jack Winter (Simeon Willis) a struggling author still trying to recover from the recent death of his wife, Eloise (Zara Plessard) who drowned (shown in a few flashbacks), suffering with nightmares while hapless trying to care for his 10-year-old daughter named Eternity (Scarlett Rayner, her film debut). Eternity appears as a quiet, distant young girl, alone in her own world, suffering her own hell of bullying, however still crafty to use her father to gain what she wants, as they both live in a spooky gatehouse by the woods edge. Jack’s friend Mary (Melissa Knatchbull) coaxes him to get in touch with his agent for a writing gig to pay the bills, the job to finish an occult manuscript on the “legend of the black flowers” from an author who committed suicide and give various locations to visit, hence leaving his daughter more alone than before in her own mental anguish. One thing untold, no writer can complete the assignment, insanity and death stalk them all. Meanwhile Eternity is on one of her digging expeditions and discovers an odd treasure in the woods, with her curiosity piqued, she removes it from the earthly soil thereby, you guess it unleashes curses, and anguish among all who touch the soil of the words. One must not overlook one the mysterious local who creates his own terror, creepy Algernon Sykes (Linal Haft) a gun-wielding landowner, gives you the willies through a series of arched eyebrows and strange noises, especially his rather oddly intimate moment with Eternity. Just how odd, think of a elderly old man, creepily smiling at your child, pointing and stating ‘beautiful’. Yeah, too obvious that he has a vindictive streak hiding within himself. Wait, there’s more layering in the story with ancient curses, teenage psychics and nature’s vengeance. Now, one gets a few deaths and missing people, such as (spoiler) Poppy (Samantha White), by the Forest Monsters (sort of).
Gooch, gives a sound story, something for near teens and their parents to watch, but the scope of the audiences of horror can pass this by, very quickly, and those interested in fantasy might not like the corny elements contained within the storyline. Another major issue comes from the lack of developing tension or suspense, while understanding it’s not horror, it still has the opportunity to build up scary and spooky elements. What the audience gets instead is more gothic tones, and scenes featuring cut away, even if the core audience is to attract a younger crowd, some creativity in the film could carry it much further along.
Gatehouse misses the mark of becoming a straight up gothic storyline aimed at children, it did not attempt the basic gory elements (either give it a horror splatter or just the sinister trappings, not both). Gooch, though, actually has yet to do a horror movie, in his lengthy credits, however he did make a cameo appearance as the Ghost Writer.
IMDb Rating: 6.4
Baron’s Rating: 6/10