THE GATEWAY, Australia, 2018. Starring Jacqueline McKenzie, Myles Pollard, Hayley McElhinney, Shannon Berry, Ben Mortley, Ryan Panizza, Shirley Toohey, Troy Coward. Directed by John V.Soto. 90 minutes. Rated M (Violence).
The Gateway was not anything like what was expected. There was talk of science fiction, horror, making it sound like one of those selections for the B-Budget films at horror festival.
Yes, it certainly is a science-fiction film but focused more on laboratory work, experiments with teleportation, discussions about multi-universes and parallel worlds, some science-fantasy. However, the film is also something of a domestic story, of tragedy in a family. It then moves towards more psychological drama, menace and threat in a marriage. And, all the time, exploring the possibilities of moving in and out of the parallel worlds.
The film was made in Western Australia on a small budget but generally looks very effectively and efficiently made. Perhaps the laboratories are somewhat simplified and might be said that security looks very lax! However, Jacqueline McKenzie gives a strong performance as Jane Chandler, in charge of the teleporting experiments, assisted by a genially geeky Regg, Ben Mortley, and under threat from the powers that be with deadlines and budget cuts.
At home, Jane has a very nice husband-author, Matt (Myles pollard) and teenage son and daughter (not so very strong in acting for performance, undermining the family impact).
In the lab, the experiments concern the teleporting of an apple from one vehicle to another. But, when the apple disappears, Jane suspects it has gone somewhere else in the world and, trying to find out how and where, discovers that it has gone to one of those parallel universes. Contact is made. The locations in each world are the same, the persons are the same, real cases of alter egos.
All this moves briskly along but is jarred by Matt’s death in a road accident. So, when Jane gets to the lab in the other world, she meets the other Regg, and then meets the other Matt (with Myles Pollard doing quite a significantly different Matt while remaining the same).
Since this is a dramatic thriller, and Matt comes back to her own world with Jane, it will not be smooth sailing – although that is what it seems for some time, the family keeping the secret of his still being alive.
The climax moves to a combination of Jane being menaced, moving from one world to another, trying to deal with the different Matt, getting the help of the new Regg, even her getting to visit another parallel universe.
This works well enough as an interesting entertainment – although the final 30 seconds are somewhat disconcertingly unnecessary. Best to forget about them and just remember the dynamic of the film itself.
Backlot Released May 10th
Peter Malone MSC is an Associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.