Set in Wales, zombie film The Gatekeeper is fitfully amusing, but can't seem to pull together all the elements necessary to make a truly successful movie.
Simultaneously, four guys from a hockey team, a young couple and a group of military police transporting a prisoner are all travelling through the remote Welsh countryside. Students of horror films know that no good will come of this. A few car accidents later, the MPs are dead in a lake, though not their prisoner, one of the hockey players is badly injured and the friendly local who stopped to help is knocked unconscious. The hockey players hole up in a nearby shack while the young couple walks off to find help. Soon enough, the young man is attacked and killed by zombies, and the young woman Malleeta (Stacey Daley) is rescued by Morgan (Todd Boyce), the escaped military prisoner.
Harris (John Jenner), the local, awakes from his slumber and spends several minutes relaying valuable exposition. Specifically, he spins a tale of a slate mine owned by the Manson family (no relation) staffed entirely by Haitian zombies. The eponymous gatekeeper is tasked with the feeding and caring for the zombies, and for keeping them safe in the mine, but he killed himself a few days ago, and the ravenous undead are thus wreaking havoc throughout the countryside. The small group of survivors is soon besieged by the zombies, and flee to a nearby farmhouse for shelter. After more zombie battles, considerable cast thinning and purportedly shocking revelations, the few survivors stumble away to the rest of their lives. Or do they?
The Gatekeeper is a decent movie, but it's not great. It's too haphazard and scattered to maintain the necessary narrative focus. There are some fair performances, and some moments of mild humor. But overall it's a dud. Several plot points are raised and then abandoned without resolution. The question of whether some of the zombies are actually kidnapped backpackers or other non-locals is discussed as an earth shattering possibility, and then left to wither away without further attention. No real tension is generated or maintained. The effects consist mostly of cheap CG, and the car wreck sequences are particularly unconvincing. The dialogue is mostly passable, but at one point, Malleeta says to Morgan, "That could be contrived as theft." One suspects she meant "construed".
The mish-mash of quality and amateurishness sabotages the entire endeavor. The Gatekeeper tries to be a somewhat self aware horror comedy, but failed to be either very funny or very scary, which would seem to be essential elements in such a venture. While there are a few bright spots, this one is a rental only.
The video is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen, and looks fair. There is some mild but persistent graininess, but overall the action is visible, and few imperfections are present.
The sound is presented in Dolby 2 channel and is also passable. There are a few brief moments where the dialogue is muffled, and no subtitles to help out, but overall the soundtrack is free of hiss or other problems. No alternate language track is available.
There are only a few extras included. A still gallery, a short film, Park and Die, produced by the students at Woodbury University, and a list (not trailers, just a succession of posters) of other films available from Cinema Epoch. Quite underwhelming.
The Gatekeeper is a scatter brained attempt at a humorous zombie movie that fails at least as much as it succeeds. The audience never gains real sympathy with the characters, and is often confused. It is not without merit, but not worth much effort either.