What’s it About?
Two brothers team up to battle a creature under the bed, in what is being described as a “suburban nightmare” tale.
“Under The Bed”
Directed by Steven C. Miller
Director Steven C. Miller (Silent Night) and writer Eric Stolze (Peer Pressure) bring to the screen a suburban folk nightmare in “Under The Bed” from 2012. It stars Jonny Weston (John Dies at the End, Chasing Mavericks) as Neal Hausman and young rising star Gattlin Griffith (Green Lantern) as his younger brother Paulie. The brothers, in this neat, lean and sometimes wobbly horror flick, only have each other to count on. They are forced to battle an other-worldy monster that lives and enters our world from under the…yep, you guessed it. The Bed.
The film begins with a nice, tightly shot sequence of Neal and his Dad talking about Neal’s return home from staying with a relative in Florida. Neal is coming home to a new Step-Mom but has to face old problems. There was a bad incident in the past that forced Neal to be sent away and undergo therapy. As it turns out he caused the death of his Mother from a fire that he caused while trying to eliminate a threat to the family. It was a tragedy that not only affected him but his Father and his younger, vulnerable brother, Paulie. Neal returns to a large welcome home party where he meets his Step-Mother and some old friends and neighbors.
Neal seems distracted though as he only wants to see his brother who is absent from the party. Miller shows us with unease and boldness how through Neal’s eyes we see his anxiety. Things slow down, people start to speak slowly and deeply. Almost as if he was tranquilized. I thought it was an interesting start into watching what drives Neal’s mental state. He eventually heads upstairs and finds Paulie hiding behind some boxes. The boys reconcile and when they are found by their Dad, who always seems to be shouting and having a meltdown, they are forced to help each other move forward. Neal takes his brother to get some food and a local diner where he is seen by some local bullies and an old flame. Miller and Stolze establishes nicely some dynamics between Paulie and Neal. They joke, smile, laugh and communicate very deeply which really benefits the material.
Miller pauses and slows down to help us get used to Neal and Paulie. We also watch as the relationship between them and their Father causes strain, distrust and eventually calamity. Oh and I forgot. They have a creature in their room that poses quite a threat too. They boys take matters into their own hands and Paulie, being the new victim, is attached to Neal at the hip in order to get through the night. Miller takes the material and with Stolze enters Joe Dante land but with a more visceral and deadly approach.
Unlike Dante’s “The Hole” Miller is deadly serious here and supplants the light hearted themes of Dante’s movie with scares, loud noises, mysterious fog and a creepy hooded figure out of a gothic horror novel. The boys deal with horrors outside the home too. Paulie has a meltdown at a school play after he falls asleep and faces some terrible images that cause him to seize and scream aloud scaring the people around him. What I liked was that Stolze links the brothers. What one feels, so does the other. They even both drift of to sleep at the same time. They are bonded beyond the normal realm of the awake.
As they try to work out the mess they are into with their Father, Neal and Paulie try to outsmart the monster as it comes ever closer to snaring and snatching them to take back to it’s nightmarish dimension. Miller gives us foggy rooms, slow zooms and his DP Joseph White (Mother’s Day) uses his camera effectively by penetrating space, shooting dimly lit hallways, zooming in slowly on closed doors and doing some killer reveals that made me jump. Of course there are some cheap scares but they do not distract.
After the boys are forced to spend the night at a neighbor’s after they piss of the Dad, do things get really hairy. It seems that the horror of Neal and Paulie’s bedroom has followed them next door and even Neal’s ex-girlfriend, Cara (Kelcie Stranahan), is in mortal danger. Miller pulls no punches in the last act. What came before is tame and restrained compared to the finale which is at times is sort of an “Insidious” meets “The Twilight Zone.” After the creature appears and causes gory and unspeakable mayhem the action then shifts back to the Hausman home where Neal, with the help of the Step-Mother, Angela (Musetts Vander) try desperately to save Paulie.
Neal crosses over ala “Poltergeist” into the creature’s dimension using rope and a jury rigged pole with flash lights attached. The monster dislikes the light it seems. Angela, who steps up to the plate, has hold of the rope on the other end. So, will Neal be able to save his brother and destroy the monster? Will Neal eventually warm up to his Step-Mom? I recommend you give “Under The Bed’ a watch and find out. The story isn’t the most original thing ever written and there is a bit of a problem with pacing at the film’s open but it settles into it’s groove and provides gory, fast and dangerous fun that works best when Miller and Stolze use the dynamic between Weston and Griffith to propel the story onward.
It’s creepy, has fable like elements and has some pretty cool make up FX. It is shot very tightly and impressively for a dark film. It’s a cool little movie that has a very eerie feel within the confines of the modern suburban folk horror sub-genre. You could do worse on a late Saturday night than watching this interesting entry. Enjoy, gang! Let me know your thoughts, too, please!