REVIEW: Bed of the Dead
– By Kriss Pickering
I’m often called for criticising the lack of originality in horror these days. It winds me up that every film I see released is a zombie, haunting or possession film. So when I see something that looks different I start to get excited!
When I first heard of Bed of the Dead however, I had very mixed feelings. I mean, sure it sounds like it’s one of the myriad of haunted object films that are released every year, but on the other hand I couldn’t think of another film with a haunted bed! Finally some originality, or is it? Read on and find out!
Bed of the Dead is about a group of randy folk who go to a swingers club as a treat for one of their birthdays. Unfortunately for them, the bed they have just played hide the sausage on is a cursed antique bed. Before long, the group start experiencing bizarre sightings and realise that if any of them got off the bed, they will be killed in excruciating ways.
Then things get really strange. We are introduced to a drunken police detective who is investigating a fire at the same club which caused four deaths. Yes, it turns out we are now in the future and he is investigating the deaths of the guys on the bed. Before long, the group’s plight and the detective’s investigation become entwined after he starts to receive text messages from the group, meaning he has a race against time to prevent the very incident he has been sent to investigate even happening. I told you it was strange!
Now it might sound like a bit of a clusterfuck, but it actually works out to be a decent premise. Because a lot of it is centred on four people being stuck on a bed, director Jeff Maher is forced to concentrate on something that is lacking in a lot of horror films these days, character development. He does a good job of focusing on the individuals’ characteristics and choices to keep them individual and not to allow them to simply become “girl on bed 1” and “man on bed 2”, etc…
That’s not the only place Maher excels. To stop the film becoming monotonous (four people stuck on a bed can be a little boring), the director uses light and dark to break things up. For example, when we are focusing on the events on the bed, the scene is swamped in darkness and uses rich colours, but when we are following the investigation, the scenes are usually bathed in bright light with a drained colour palette.
Another choice the director seemed to have made early on was regarding the film’s tone. A film about a killer bed sounds like it should be more like a comedy-horror, but Maher keeps things much darker. There is always the potential to slip a bit of humour in, but it is never explored further. Which is a shame, in my opinion of course…
The cast is decent too and put in some good, at times emotional performances. One of the best is Alysa King’s (interviewed HERE) portrayal of the tragic Sandy. There is some real depth in her turn, and you can feel how desperate she is to distance herself from the tragedy she has experienced. It’s the first time I have seen her, but I will be keeping an eye out for more of her work. Dennis Andres’ performance is enjoyable too, but for totally different reasons. He makes Birthday boy Ren so obnoxiously unlikable that you can’t wait for his death, to see how gross it could be.
Unfortunately though, the good character writing falls flat on its face when it comes to the film’s cops. Virgil (the detective) for example is painfully cliched with his alcoholism, leather jacket and personal tragedy loitering in his past. It doesn’t help that Colin Price’s performance is less than stellar either, but saying that none of his fellow “cops” are much cop (pun intended) either.
Finally, the finish is one of the more anticlimactic in recent memory. But I don’t want to go into detail and spoil what little drama there is…
But overall it’s not too bad film. When it’s simply being a fun, fucked up horror flick it’s great and well worth a watch. But it’s when it tries to go all serious and dramatic it really lost my attention and wish they had stayed more lighthearted. But it is a good outing for a director making his feature debut and I for one am interested in seeing what he can do with a bigger budget.
Read our interview with Bed of the Dead star Alysa King HERE.