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THE GATEWAY gets 6/10 Gated community

Directed by John V. Soto
Starring Jacqueline McKenzie, Myles Pollard, Ben Mortley


In the past five years or so, Australia has been punching above it’s weight in terms of genre films, especially in the areas of sci-fi and horror. Films such as The Babadook, Predestination, These Final Hours, and Wrymwood: Road of the Dead have all made an impact on international audiences. Local genre auter John V. Soto has been part of this explosion, making horror films such as Needle and crime thrillers such The Reckoning, in the streets of Perth. With a script co-written by author Michael White (Isaac Newton: The Last Sorcerer), Soto finally turns his hand to science fiction in his latest film, The Gateway.

While researching teleportation a serendipitous accident causes Dr Jane Chandler (Jacqueline McKenzie) stumbles across a way to pierce the veil of the multiple dimension. She discovers one of infinite Earths, a world like ours, with counterparts to the inhabitants of our world, yet subtly different – a mirror universe. When Jane suffers the tragic loss of her husband (Myles Pollard) in her reality, she travels to the other world and meets him again. However, is this Matt the same as the husband she has lost, or will her rash actions have consequences for herself and her family.

Given the ludicrously small budget, it’s almost miraculous what The Gateway accomplishes. It sets out to take on the mainstream sci-fi blockbuster on their own terms, packing what those tent-pole movies would spend on catering as its war chest. It might be overly ambitious, but The Gateway gives it a good try, creating a relatively solid thriller within the trappings of sci-fi. By keeping it near future, and playing with the concept of parallel worlds, it allows its modest finances to shine through on production quality, giving life to the sci-fi concept of a machine to breach other realities. The result comes across more like an extended episode of a sci-fi anthology show (think Twilight Zone or Black Mirror) than a strongly inventive film, but it is still very watchable.

Jacqueline McKenzie is a substantial part of the reason for this, as she manages to sell every stage of the arc her character journeys through. From scientist subsumed by work, unable to fully appreciate the loving family she is part of, to grieving widow trying to do anything to get back what she has lost – McKenzie nails it. Pollard is on less solid ground however. Given the task of exploring the same character from different worlds he fails to bring a believability to his performance as the alternative Matt. This is not entirely his fault, as either the character or the militaristic parallel world from which he hails is given enough background to grant his character a convincing motivation to his actions. He seems a cliched villain, rather than the hero in his own story.

A solid piece of sci-fi, that despite doing the incredible, doesn’t quite reach its potential. But damn I want to see that mirror universe that it does.


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