‘The Gates’ Ending Explained & Movie Summary: Is William’s Ghost Gone Or Still There?

In the late 1890s, they were just introducing the electric chair for capital punishment, and Stephen Hall decided to make an awful movie about it. The Gates is a weak attempt at making a horror; at times it comes off as a parody of the genre. A serial killer who’s trying to resurrect his wife with necromancy haunts the prison where he was killed at. 

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Spoilers Ahead


What Happens In The Movie?

William Colcott slices the throat of his 28th victim when cops knock on his door. He’s trying to offer up women as sacrifices so his wife would come back to life. William kills a policeman before getting arrested, but his contact with the dark entities continues in his prison cell. The Bishopsgate prison is chosen to test the new electric chair, and who’d make a better candidate than William? William struggles to survive, but a second round of shock kills him. Post-mortem photographer Frederick Ladbroje and his niece Emma Wicks find themselves in a mess when William’s creepy spirit starts haunting the prison. 

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What’s The “Atmosizer?”

Frederick and Emma visit Bishopsgate to click pictures of William’s body. George, one of the guards at the prison, describes how the rotten walls have made it difficult to even breathe properly in the prison. The jail now only accommodates criminals waiting for the death sentence, and how they got the opportunity to test the chair is beyond George. Emma sees the corpse of William moving when she’s setting up the camera, and she runs out of the room. The uncle niece duo head to the British Paranormal Society to demonstrate their state-of-the-art device, the Atmosizer. The device is their life’s work, and it helps to communicate with the dead. It draws the spirits from the invisible ether and helps to communicate with them. When electrical energy passes through the machine, it electrifies the atmosphere and thins the veils of the wavelengths, which separates the dead from us. The men reject Frederick’s pitch, thinking an Ouija board is a better idea than this. To make things worse, the Atmosizer breaks down in front of them. 


What Prompts The Governor To Call The Priest? 

The demonic whispers of William echo in the prison. Shorty, a criminal who’s due to sit in the chair in a day, tells a guard to kill him before William does. His wish goes unfulfilled, but the voices keep getting louder, and Shorty kills himself by hanging. The unrest amongst prisoners and the constant whispers spook the guards too. One of them asks the Governor of the jail to call up Father Matthews to cleanse and bless the premises. Father Matthews gets attacked by an unknown force, and his head busts open. A concerned guard tells the governor to contact the paranormal expert, and Lucian Abberton arrives at Bishopsgate. Meanwhile, Emma notices an aberration in the pictures of William, and Frederick runs to the prison to test his device once again. Abberton recognizes Frederick and Emma from their pitch of the Atmosizer, and he asks everyone present on the premises to stay put. 

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How Does Lucian Make Contact With William’s Spirit?

Lucian’s presence annoys Father Matthews, but Lucian thinks his God abandoned him, and he shouldn’t talk about it. Lucian tries his tried and tested methods to summon William, but William only answers when nobody’s looking. Frederick runs the Atmosizer again, and it works this time. Both Lucian and Frederick go to see the governor, and William’s spirit creeps up on Emma, almost possessing her. Emma can still understand what’s happening, but William has taken over her body. His spirit leads Emma to the electric chair, but Frederick and Lucian come back just in time to save her. The Atmosizer is turned back on by William’s spirit, and it’s only making him more powerful as he wanders freely thanks to the device. Lucian could sense that Emma has a positive energy, which saved her, but he can’t figure out what that energy is. Lucian takes William’s wedding ring and tries to make contact with him, but the spirit proves to be stronger than he thought. Lucian’s hand burns severely from holding the ring, and William leaves a note saying, “She will return to me.”


Who Kills Father Matthews And The Guards?

Marie, George’s wife, threatens one of the guards to let her in. He hides her in the storeroom while he’s fetching George for her. William possesses Marie, and when George comes to see her, she kills him. She captures another guard, Philip, and throws up blood on him before finishing him off as well. Father Matthews gets up, and the man of God gets ready to face the evil. And then he’s running from Marie when he sees her. Possessed Marie kills the joke of a man, and William leaves her body after snapping her neck. 

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How Does The Atmosizer Save The Day?

Lucian is devastated by all the deaths around him. He’s gone into self-loathing mode like a 16-year-old. Frederick talks him out of it and proposes that if the Atmosizer is reversed, it can be used to drain the atmosphere of energy and it can make the spirit weaker. In order to bind William, Emma suggests that the key to his prison cell will be just the right thing. Lucian uses Governor Forsyth’s insulting voice recording to lure William to the machine. Frederick connects the Atmosizer to a generator and reverses the mechanism of the machine. The Atmosizer drains the whole energy around the room, but William still manages to get hold of Lucian. Lucian takes control of his soul and binds William to the prison key. The ghost is done for, and Lucian, Emma, and Frederick walk out of the prison, successfully defeating the ghost of William. 


Is William’s Ghost Gone Or Still There?

During The Gates‘ ending, Emma and Frederick discuss their career options since the Atmosizer is more harmful than of use. Emma thinks they should photograph crime scenes for the police, and Frederick laughs it off, thinking it’s a crazy idea. Lucian pays them a visit, and he gives half his payment to Frederick for their help at Bishopsgate. Emma and Frederick are now being called the “great ghost hunters of London.” The key that Lucian used to bind William is buried in the walls of Cell Number 13, where William spent his last days. Governor Forsyth has covered up the incident as a riot between the prisoners, but Emma and Frederick have made their names known in the right circles. Lucian bids goodbye to Emma and Frederick and leaves London. Something in Lucian has changed, and it becomes clear when he removes his gloves. His left hand has turned into a monstrous claw.  Lucian never managed to defeat the spirit of William but was possessed by William himself. He’s wearing the wedding ring as he declares that he’s coming to revive his wife. 

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The Gates is a sad attempt at horror. The atmospheric horror doesn’t work, but the interactions between Lucian and William are somewhat spooky. The ridiculous priest is more of an unintended comic element, and you can’t take him seriously. The plot had enough meat to make this movie work, but the weak execution and lacklustre horror never really set the tone it needed. 


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Aniket Mukherjee
Aniket Mukherjee
Aniket is a literature student pursuing his master's degree while trying to comprehend Joyce and Pound. When his head is not shoved in books, he finds solace in cinema and his heart beats for poetry, football, and Adam Sandler in times.

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