Bed of the Dead Movie Review
Written by Joel Harley
Directed by Jeff Maher
Written by Cody Calahan, Jeff Maher
2017, 88 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
UK VOD released on 10th July 2017
Colin Price as Virgil
Alysa King as Sandy
Gwenlyn Cumyn as Nancy
Dennis Andres as Ren
After a guy is brutally killed in it, a tree gets chopped down and turned into a fancy bed. Said bed is now haunted, murdering those who might dare to screw about in it. Residing in a dirty sex club, it lies in wait for four friends who have decided to spice up their sex life with a small orgy for one of their number’s birthday. Unfortunately, they don’t even get into the foreplay before the hallucinations start and things take a darker turn. What should have been the stage for two couples' most sexy dreams come true could well turn into their... death bed.
What few will have expected from Bed of the Dead is director and co-writer Jeff Maher to play such a concept with an almost entirely straight face. Naturally, it has its yuks, and it certainly isn’t blind to the inherent dopiness of the story, but the shocks are real. The disparity between this and what I had expected from the title and budget (essentially The Sand, but with a bed) is great – and a great relief, too.
There’s no greater contrast between what the film should/could have been and what it actually is than in the set-up itself; a would-be orgy between friends in which the lot of them wear socks to bed and give up almost straight away. It’s the least erotic sex party of all time, and no small wonder that the girls just decide to go to sleep instead. With no other easy way of getting four people onto a bed, and no real interest in it, Maher half-asses the stupid sex stuff (which would have been Syfy level anyway) and gets straight to the goods instead; namely, the impressive gore, J-horror type scares, and its weird cop show subplot.
Part adaptation of the ‘floor is lava’ game you used to play as a kid, part slightly trippy haunted house movie, part stuck-in-a-stupid-place genre piece, Bed of the Dead is one of the more original horror films this year. Hiding beneath the cover(s) of the silly title and story are genuine, solid genre movie scares, and kill sequences on a par with, well, what you might expect to find in a haunted house movie not called Bed of the Dead (The bed isn't even alive! So wash that Night of the Living Bed joke out of your mouth right now). It would make a great double feature with the similarly surprising furniture feature Curtain.
But even with its horror bona fides and unconventional narrative flow, Bed of the Dead struggles to sustain an eighty minute movie. Entertaining as they are, the scares are too far between, the characters not nearly interesting enough to justify their spending a whole movie on a bed together. Even its investigating cop character is a bland one, in spite of his very modern and relevant backstory. The 'kids' are even worse, barely a memorable one between them (although one does kind of look like Anna Kendrick), forgotten as soon as they disappear from the screen (insert pun about memory foam mattresses here).
Nevertheless, this is one to be celebrated. Interesting, occasionally smart and frequently creepy, it's far and beyond the dumb schlock it could have been. For a movie about a haunted bed, Bed of the Dead goes surprisingly deep beneath the sheets.