Sunday, July 10, 2022

Gateway: Ireland’s Grungiest Haunted House

Evidently, Irish junkies are smarter than their dealers, because they learned to stay away from this abandoned house. However, Mike and his associates need to grow some weed fast, so they decide to convert it into a grow-house. Alas, they will not get very far in screenwriter-director Niall Owens’ Gateway, which releases this Friday on VOD.

Evidently, Mike suffered a very personal loss that he has yet to fully process. Likewise, Eddie is still raw from the death of his estranged father. Mike’s mate Joe is struggling with his separation from his wife and his strained relationship with his daughter—and the fact Mike might be partly to blame. Together with Phil, who is a real tool, they try to set up a pot growing operation in a mysteriously shunned house. Of course, it hardly takes any time before they are seeing things and lashing out at each other.

is moody as heck and definitely a slow builder—almost too slow. Owens definitely appears to share a Ben Wheatley influence, because the first half hour is all about the low life thugs’ dysfunctional relationships. However, when the house starts to do its thing, it definitely gets eerily unnerving.

The house is definitely a profoundly unhealthy environment. Frankly, Owens never reveals the full extent of its secrets. The glyphs we see on its walls are only a tantalizing tease that start to look like red herrings.

Regardless, Owens definitely cranks up the atmosphere of decay and menace.
Gateway is a lot like Relic and Amulet, in the way it makes a drab environment feel overwhelmingly evil. Plus, the unsettling sound design skillfully deepens the disorientation and foreboding.

The small ensemble is also quite effective. Tim Creed, Kevin Barry, and Laurence Ubong Williams play the gang with a blue-collar intensity that suggests they would be comfortable doing John Osborne on-stage. Ironically, Owens’ somewhat distancing style might be obstacle for them receiving the credit they deserve.

is indeed stylistically ambitious, which should appeal to fans of A24’s horror output. Yet, most importantly, it still delivers the creeps. Recommended for genre fans, despite an unhurried (and sometimes obscure) start, Gateway releases this Friday (7/15) on VOD.