[Review] Gateway of the Sun [Romford Horror Festival]: A Mysterious Monolith Is Loath to Give Up Its Secrets

Director Michael Doyle’s U.K. horror short Gateway of the Sun (2024) combines sylvan and supernatural horror to fantastic effect. 

University student O’Leary Byrne (Carlina Flood) has long been fascinated with the mystery of the titular ancient archeological treasure, a megalithic structure said to be located deep in a forest, in an area where hundreds of people have gone missing over the years. Hoping to find the structure as well as answers, she enlists the help of private military contractor Austin Troy (Grant Bayliss, who wrote the short’s screenplay based on a story by Doyle) and their guide Meredith Clay (David Gibbs). As seasoned fear-fare fanatics know, some ancient secrets and deep forest areas are never meant to be explored, and the members of the trio find themselves in puzzling, terrifying situations.

Visual wizardry and eerie sound design by Doyle, who also served as director of photography and performed post production, are two of the factors that make Gateway of the Sun such an eldritch success. Doyle directs splendidly, demonstrating an adept feel for the classic horror approach of knowing when to show just enough to let our imaginations fill in the rest, and when to show a little more than that. Flood, Bayliss, and Gibbs are in admirable form as the protagonists.

Although Gateway of the Sun works fine as a short film, it holds plenty of mysteries that deserve to be examined in a full-length feature. The world-building is rock solid, and the dimensions on display beg for further exploration. Here’s hoping that this chilling gateway opens us to more from the vivid imaginations of Doyle and Bayliss.

Gateway of the Sun screens as part of the Romford Horror International Film Festival, which runs February 29–March 3, 2024 in Romford, U.K. For more information, visit https://www.romfordhorrorfestival.com/.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5.

He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Horror Fuel, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right.

A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.