Of all the different permutations that we’re accustomed to seeing in horror films, it’s not terribly often that we get a maniacal bed. Maybe that’s because, on paper, it seems like an absolutely ludicrous idea. Sure, it might work in some sort of slapstick comedy/horror mashup, but chances are slim that you could string together a serious, and somewhat cohesive, narrative from such a silly idea–right? You might be surprised… Jeff Maher and Cody Calahan’s Bed of the Dead is able to establish a universe where nothing is as it seems, and everything has consequences.
The film follows four young adults that head to their local sex club to celebrate a birthday, but upon bribing their way into a special room with an Emperor-sized bed (have you ever tried having a foursome on a King size? It ain’t easy), it quickly becomes apparent that they’re all getting far more than they bargained for. Once you touch the bed, you’ll be forced to pay for your sins. This is where Bed of the Dead is at its best; exploring our character’s various back stories and seeing their escape attempts. But there’s another side to the film; one that isn’t nearly as engaging or fun.
We also have the parallel story of Officer Carter; a disgraced detective called to the club to investigate what happened to the aforementioned orgy-ers. These two stories play out side by side, but it’s not the concurrent style of story telling that’s the problem–it’s the character of Officer Carter himself. He’s a caricature of the “washed up” cop stereotype that we’ve been seeing in TV and film for decades. Carter isn’t a bad character, he’s just boring and predictable. That causes the semi-frequent breaks from the awesome “kids trapped on a bed” story line to be met with a bit of a thud. Luckily, these two tales begin playing off of one another in time, and the intrigue is enough to overshadow Carter as a character.
But let’s not forget, this is a film about a legitimate death bed–so how does it work as a horror film? Quite well. Bed of the Dead not only holds its own when it comes to building a bit of tension, but perhaps more importantly, it features some absolutely glorious practical FX work and kills. There’s a certain nostalgic charm that comes from locking eyes on FX work that was obviously made by hand, and I can’t get enough of it–I just wish there were more in this case. I was actually surprised at just how graphic one kill in particular was, but you won’t find me complaining.
So what is Bed of the Dead? You’ve got sex clubs, brutal kills, cop drama, and a really pissed off piece of furniture–it’s a bit of an odd mix, I can admit that. But even through the character tropes and the occasional stiff performance, Bed of the Dead is fun; plain and simple. It’s the type of movie that you would blindly rent on VHS decades ago and come away with a grin on your face. But most importantly, it’s not the same old shit; it’s different, and being different means you have to take some chances. Does the film succeed at everything it was attempting to do? I don’t think so, but that doesn’t overly detract from its many successes. Bed of the Dead will take you on a journey unlike anything else, and that alone should be reason enough to spend a few bucks on it.
Bed of the Dead is currently working its way through the festival scene. It’s next screening is on 8/1/2016 at the J.A. De Seve Theatre as part of the Fantasia International Film Festival.
Bed of the Dead [Review]
Bed of the Dead is fun; plain and simple. It’s the type of movie that you would blindly rent on VHS decades ago and come away with a grin on your face. But most importantly, it’s not the same old shit; it’s different. It will take you on a journey unlike anything else, and that alone should be reason enough to spend a few bucks on it.