If there’s anything we should have learned from horror by now, it’s that nothing good ever comes from holding a séance at a party. Especially not when someone there has a murderous dead father seeking to pass on his legacy. I mean, how much trouble could you ask for, right?...
...So opens Harley Wallen’s Agramon’s Gate. It tells the story of a group of friends who, after a particularly bad experience at a séance, start being haunted by a vengeful shapeshifting spirit who seems to want nothing more than to wreak havoc on everyone who woke it up. Unfortunately for Richie Stann (Kris Reilly), the demon prefers the form of his father (played with truly unsettling talent by Yan Birch (The People Under the Stairs)), who he killed when he was 12 to save his mother, and who wants to prove to Richie how similar they really are. The group, with the help of the medium who hosted the ill-fated séance and her partner, must find a way to defeat the demon Agramon or risk the ends of their lives and the lives of everyone they love.
While the film does have its issues—the acting can get a little clunky and I wasn’t entirely sure of the chemistry of the main group for most of the experience—I found myself, at some point, invested in the story and wanting to know how it would play out. Would Zeb (writer/director Harley Wallen), the half-blind medium with a history of demon fighting, finally defeat his adversary Agramon? Would Richie finally be able to face his demons and come out on the other side a changed man?
Where it may fall a little flat in acting, the sound design and score for this film really highlighted how important and effective those aspects are. I found that, almost despite myself, I got just a hint more disturbed than I expected because of the way the tension came across in sound. There are also some great moments of camerawork—particularly a few which play with light, darkness, and silhouettes—that captured an air of disturbance and anxiety I wasn’t expecting going in. The influences from some of horror’s greatest films (Amityville Horror and The Exorcist most notably) were crystal clear.
The most interesting thing about the demon and the stakes it presents us with is that it isn’t contained. Not to the party, not to one group, not to one place. Agramon, it seems, is a fear eater who can follow you anywhere. She goes after every single person who opened the gate to release her at the séance, and everyone they love. No one’s family is safe, no one’s home is safe. Not even the workplace—maybe the only solace poor Richie had—is safe. The only escape for any of them is either defeating the demon or dying themselves. I love a good vengeful woman, and Agramon bursts onto the scene stronger than anyone expected and won’t go down without a fight.
I wasn’t expecting it, but Agramon’s Gate, for all its flaws, was a great deal of fun. It ends on a surprisingly effective cliffhanger and there are a few performances in the cast that kept me caring about the fate of this group of poor decision-makers. Don’t take it too seriously and you just might find you fell under the spell of this film. But if you leave with nothing else, just remember: don’t mess with Ouija boards and always close your spirit doors. You never know what might follow you home if you don’t.
Agramon’s Gate is now open on VOD from Midnight Releasing.
By Katelyn Nelson
Like Katelyn's writing? Leave her a tip here through Ko-fi!