Directed by Olaf Ittenbach [Other horror films: Black Past (1989), The Burning Moon (1992), Premutos – Der gefallene Engel (1997), Legion of the Dead (2001), Riverplay (2001), Evil Rising (2002), Garden of Love (2003), Familienradgeber (2006), Chain Reaction (2006), Dard Divorce (2007), No Reason (2010), Legend of Hell (2012), Savage Love (2012), 5 Seasons (2015), Olaf Ittenbach’s Colourman (2017), Garden of Love II (2017)]
I knew very little about this going in, which was, in this case, a positive thing, because if I had known it was an anthology movie with only two stories, each one taking approximately 50 minutes, I would have gone the other way. As it was, Beyond the Limits wasn’t terrible, and it has it’s place, but it’s certainly not a movie I’d expect too many people to enjoy or want to sit through.
Before anything else, though, I want to give credit to the gore. Director Olaf Ittenbach is somewhat well-known for his gorier films (though I’ve not personally seen any aside from this one), and this one is no different, with some quality decapitations, someone being garroted, a young kid taking a sledgehammer to the face, and other goodies. It’s a solid example of lower-budget gore being done right, so if you’re into this type of thing, this movie might be looking up.
Otherwise, I just don’t think it’s really a great movie. I’ve not seen that many anthology films which feature just two stories, but those that I have (such as Two Evil Eyes and 2009’s Late Fee) haven’t been that good. Part of the reason being, the stories are obviously too short to be full-length movies, but are also too long to be digestible, easy-to-view segments you’d expect from any decent anthology, be it Tales from the Crypt or Creepshow.
It also doesn’t help that neither story here, not to mention the framing sequence (which started out fine, but by the end just seemed terrible) made a positive impression on me. I’d say the first story – a bunch of people are tortured by a sadistic guy in relation to a gangland incident – was the better of the two, as it’s pretty much, past a certain point, a low-budget Hostel. The second story, a period piece about the torture of the Inquisition on religious folk, felt more like a bloodier The Bloody Judge than anything really worth getting into.
I didn’t hate any of the acting (though I will say that Simon Newby was a bit campier than I’d have personally preferred), but few people here really wowed me. From the first story, even with his flaws, Simon Newby was probably the best there. Thomas Reitmair (who I couldn’t help but see as a blonde Alan Rickman) needed a bit more character, and Daryl Jackson was too much a mystery to really get a hang on.
From the second story, while Darren Shahlavi could have been an okay protagonist, he really didn’t end up that memorable. Russell Friedenberg was delightfully evil, albeit maybe a bit over-the-top, but the real over-the-top performance award goes to David Creedon, who was just ridiculously campy (perhaps even rivaling Newby). There are some quality medieval set pieces and sword fights, but you can see it done decently better in the early episodes of Game of Thrones.
Honestly, Beyond the Limits is far from a terrible film. It’s competent in what it was aiming for, and save for a few really bad effects (such as a woman being thrown out of a building in the first story) and that rather awful and expected conclusion, it might be worth watching if you’re already familiar with Olaf Ittenbach or into low-budget horror. It’s just really not my type of thing.