Under the Bed (2013)

“Under the Bed” Should Crawl Back Under and Stay There.

After seeing a trailer and some promotional material for Steven C. Miller’s retro-80’s style monster movie, “Under the Bed,” I could hardly wait to check out this little indie chiller. Inspired by the childhood fear that we all experienced growing up that something was under your bed, and if you didn’t jump in and out of bed quickly enough, it’s cold, boney fingers would reach out and pull you under.

The promotion for this film was really hitting my soft spot for 1980’s young adult horror films, and Miller promised a Spielberg-style, suburban monster movie using only practical special effects. No CGI! I actually really enjoyed Miller’s remake/re-imagining of “Silent Night” (2012), and the idea of a more serious take on “Little Monsters” (1989) put a smile on my face. Eighty eight eternally long minutes later, that smile had turned upside down.

In order for any horror film to generate an ounce of suspense, it must first make us care about the characters that it intends to put in danger. Neal, the young teenager at the heart of “Under the Bed,” has just been released from a two year stay at a mental institution after attempting to burn down his house which resulted in the death of his mother. He was trying to kill the monster that lived under his bed, but of course, no one believes him. He returns home only to find the monster is now after his little brother.

Sadly, Neal is a sullen, insufferable bore. His little brother, Paul, isn’t much more interesting and their dad is one of the biggest assholes in cinematic fatherhood history. Seriously, this jerk makes some of the worst parenting decisions I’ve ever seen in a film before and he shouts most of his dialogue. In fact, all of the actors in this film appear to be reading their dialogue at one another rather than actually interacting.

Since the monster seems to be building up its appetite for human flesh by snacking on dead skin cells the boys shed in their sleep, and it seems to live only under the one specific bed, it would seem like they might just either try moving the bed or asking their dad to switch rooms. Oh right, their dad is a gigantic asshole. He does what any parent of troubled children would do. He locks the boys in the scary room together, forcing them to try and sleep on the desk to avoid the monster’s clutches.

That’s another problem with this story. Someone is always trying to go to sleep in the plot, and even though the film is only 88 minutes long, it moves like molasses and every time the characters tried to nod off to sleep, I started nodding off myself.

Finally, Neal must enter the monster’s world under the bed to save his little brother who has been pulled into its creepy netherworld. I’m convinced that this sequence was filmed and meant to be shown in 3D just like the climax of “Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare” (1991). There are CGI embers “floating” all over the screen and lots of things seem to poke right at the camera. Nothing in the promotional material says that this sequence was shot in 3D, but it sure looks like that was the intent. Anyway, the climax came out just like the rest of the movie: flat.

The movie is available to rent at Redbox this week or for sale at WalMart for $10. I wish I could tell you that it lives up to its retro-80’s promise, but sadly, it’s hardly worth getting out of bed for.

The Phantom of The Ville

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