Under The Bed (2012): HCF Frightfest 2012 Special Review

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Under The Bed (2012)

(18 TBC) Running time: TBC

Director: Steven C. Miller

Writer: Eric Stolze

Starring: Jonny Weston, Gattlin Griffith, Peter Holden, Musetta Vander, Kelcie Stranahan

Reviewed by: Matt Wavish, official HCF critic

After the terrific film, The Aggression Scale (review) and with the remake Silent Night on its way, director Steven C. Miller is a busy man. Under The Bed is his latest tale of terror and one which is a beautiful throwback to the horror films of the 80’s. There are a number of ideas here which, intentional or not, will give horror fans of that decade much to smile about: the local diner, the girl next door relationship, a lack of today’s technology, strong family involvement, BMX bikes and two brothers battling a monster living under the bed.

Miller has delivered yet another terrific horror, with yet another strong script and another broken family as the core of the story (a theme also used in The Aggression Scale). Miller seems intent on horror that focuses on relationships and good scripting to build up his mounting tension rather than full on horror, and like those films from the 80’s, he enjoys the build up with very little happening in the first hour. However, the tension does mount as the film moves forward, and the final half hour is a hell of a lot of fun and, dare I say it again, taken right out of how 80’s horror flicks would end. Hell, even the monster here is a man in a suit rather than using today’s CGI, so old school horror fans will find much to enjoy here.

I went into this film not really knowing much about it. In fact, I was expecting a fun filled horror romp much like Joe Dante’s The Hole, but from the opening homecoming party scene for Neal (Weston) it all becomes clear this is a serious horror with nasty intentions. Turns out Neal has been away for a few years after it was thought he burnt down his old family home, killing his Mother. His Dad has moved on and found a new wife, and his young brother Paulie (Griffith) appears to be suffering horrific visions, the same visions Neal was suffering: there is a monster living under the bed! Silly as it sounds, the idea works and Miller taps into our childhood fears of something either living under the bed, in the closet, or down the hallway. Come on, we have all flicked off the light switch and rushed into our beds, or been too scared to allow a part of our body to hang over the sides for fear of something horrible grabbing it. That it was Miller brings to his new tale of terror, and the final results are very impressive.

The build up here is at times quite chilling, with the odd well crafted scare (the first being a particularly frightening dream sequence) putting your nerves through the grinder. The use of moody, creeping music and the sudden jolt of loud noises work wonders for the creepy atmosphere, and with all the actors giving really convincing performances, the film manages to get under the skin and really unsettle. However, there are minor problems here, and that comes with the film being a little too slow in places. We get the story, but sadly the scares are too few and far between, and while the relationship between the two brothers is nice to watch on screen, it is not good enough to carry the film in the slower parts. The scares, when they do come, are terrific, but I couldn’t help but notice a disturbing want to see some more nasty stuff. It does come, a little late in the day, but as I have already said, the films finale is terrific, and Miller shows he can really bring the horror when he wants to. We get some very cool, old school violence, mixed with some rather tasty freaky scenes involving a bed sheet, and all the cast perform wonders at being absolutely terrified.

Miller also has room for the odd bit of light hearted comedy and a mis-matched love story between Neal and his neighbour Cara (Stranahan) to lighten the mood, and it is very welcome. Once you get the audience to connect with your cast, you can pretty much do anything with them, and Miller (as he has done previously) does it again, and you both connect, and like the cast here giving the family in peril story a heightened level of fear. Miller is learning his craft, in fact, on the strength of this he has mastered it and his style of strong script, believable characters, moody, building tension and full on scares puts him in the same league as the best of today’s horror directors. Under The Bed, although not flawless, is a thoroughly enjoyable, at times terrifying, homage to 80’s horror. If you can stick with it, there is plenty of rewards to come from this powerful and convincing journey into our most basic childhood fears. Everyone has been scared of monsters in the night, Miller knows it, and he taps into those fears and brings them all gushing back so that one way or another, you are guaranteed to find something here which will give you the shivers!

Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

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About Matt Wavish 598 Articles
A keen enthusiast and collector of all horror and extreme films. I can be picky as i like quality in my horror. This doesn't necessarily mean it has to be a classic, but as long as it has something to impress me then i'm a fan. I watch films by the rule that if it doesn't bring out some kind of emotive response then it aint worth watching.

1 Comment

  1. Different strokes I guess. Of the two days I was at fright fest it was by far the worst movie I saw, and I’d say it gives most other bad horrors this year a run for their money. I will say, the dynamic between the two boys worked ok – and both actors were quite good. Just we were at least 20 minutes ahead of the narrative at all times. The movie was a box ticking excersise from the start, right down to the generic setup (tragic backing story – check. cartoon dad – check. stepmother the main character doesn’t love yet – check.) Every horror cliche imaginable was tossed at the screen too, with an underdeveloped lore (no spoilers obviously, but the very end seemed thematic rather than a remotely cohesive part of the plot). Ultimately it reminded me a lot of the Rami produced Boogeyman. And that’s not great company to keep.

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