Debauchery. Sex clubs. A demonic bed. I had no idea what the hell I was in for when I turned on Bed of the Dead, but oh man, was I surprised.
Playing as part of the Fantasia Film Festival, I went into this film blind, having not seen a single trailer or heard a word about it. A part of me feels like that was the best way to go about it; no pre-conceived notion of what to expect, and no one spoiling my views.
But after watching the film, I think I am left a little speechless.
The story revolves around one of the most underutilized sub genres of horror, the evil bed. This one in particular was made from the wood of trees used for executions, as we see in a wonderfully shot opening sequence. However, this brightly lit scene is the last time daylight will permeate the film, as the rest of it takes place at night.
The main chunk of the story alternates between two time periods: the first being the adventures of four (un-likeable) young people who visit a sex club in search of a good time and wind up with the bed of the dead, and the second being a detective who is investigating a fire at said sex club…a fire that took the lives of those four young people.
It’s an interesting narrative design, to separate the two stories by only a matter of hours, and see how they slowly intertwine with each other. In fact, as the film goes on, how the two lined up was different the most interesting prospect to me.
However, something that put me off was that, for a film called Bed of the Dead, it was played 100% serious. I can appreciate wanting to take a campy notion and turn it into a straight up, gory horror, but director Jeff Maher’s refusal to let any comedic moments come into play keep the tone dark, dark, dark.
And dark is what you continue to get, such as when the four folks realize that leaving the bed will result in deadly consequences. Imagine a game of “the floor is lava” that you played as a kid, but this time, leaving the base will quite literally eviscerate you.
Maybe eviscerate isn’t the right word for it, but to the film’s credit, the deaths are gory as hell. Limbs breaking, bodies torn apart, and more. Knowing who lives and who survives, due to the time jumping narrative, leaves the element of surprise out of most of the film. However, as things progress much later, real surprises do pop up here and there.
The majority of the film, even with its non-linear structure, takes place within the same room, so it’s interesting to see how Maher pulls that off. For the most part, he succeeds. Both versions of the room with the bed in it have their own distinct look, which helps that along.
Maher comes from a cinematography background, so the film also looks gorgeous. He lines up his shots well and knows how to capture the action within the frame. However, despite that, some of the characters are so poorly written, it doesn’t matter how great they look on film. If you watch this film, you are definitely watching for the supernatural aspects of it, and how Maher pulls off their look, rather than character interaction.
At the end of the day, it’s a mostly enjoyable film, and one I think most horror fans would get a kick out of, at least in some respects. Festival audiences will eat it up, as it would definitely play better in a big group, but for those of you watching it home, it might be worth checking out once it becomes available.