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Ever since Antisocial‘s showing a few years back at Fantasia, Black Fawn Films has always world premiered their movies here. Antisocial, The Drownsman, Bite, Antisocial 2: all of them. None of these films are perfect but they are all passion projects where we can see the love for the horror genre seep through every corner. There are some really great ideas. They might not blow your mind, but they deserve to be seen. With that said, despite a seemingly ridiculous premise, Bed of the Dead was inevitable. For the premiere, it was hosted by director and co-writer Jeff Maher himself, along music composer Stephanie Copeland.
The official Fantasia Film Festival summary for Bed of the Dead reads: When two young couples book a room at a seedy sex club for a birthday orgy, they bribe their way into a forbidden room that contains a massive, wooden bed, which happens to be carved from a cursed tree. They soon find themselves stranded when something pulls one of them beneath it.
Bed of the Dead is a strange movie to discuss. For one, just like many of Black Fawn Films other productions, it reminisces on an 80s throwback. In this one, inevitably it had huge nuances of the scene in Nightmare of Elm Street. Bed of the Dead throws in a lot of ideas and in many ways, they are clever curveballs. In the Q&A session following, Jeff Maher makes a point that this isn’t a movie that you analyse because it is a mess and its meant to be an entertaining affair. That is exactly how to describe it, although not exactly a mess. There are tons of idea from time travel to cursed objects to hallucinations and desires. There are cheesy lines and awkward character moments. It has some laughs and some jump scares and a ton of blood. Except with a title of Bed of the Dead and the cursed object being an emperor sized bed, did you expect something else is that question I’d like to ask? Whoever sat in the screening, knew exactly what they were in for and if anything, I was pleasantly surprised when I left.
It is hard to pinpoint what gives Bed of the Dead charm. I believe that the future phase of the movie placed on the morning after the events of the night have passed with these two young couples is the strength as we follow an emotionally broken and drunk investigator that tries to figure out this case. This investigator is Virgil played by Colin Price. As he moves through the scene and each body is shown to him, we flash back to the events that only happened hours ago. Except his story is also much more than the surface and there is a particular care to putting his character together. This is where the mechanics of time travel happens. Virgil is also the strongest performance in this movie.
Except it is hard to give merit to the other characters here. Although it feels deliberate to make the twenty something characters trapped on the bed full of dumb dialogue, particularly the guys and the reactions, it is hard to shake off whether it was meant to be a comic relief and eventually turn into an eye rolling bit with certain small roles as well. The gesture of humor like mentioned before, reminds us of the campy 80s horror. Is that saying that the characters are memorable? Not exactly. The acting still leaves a bit to be desired.
Before we jump into the best part of Bed of the Dead (aside for Virgil), take a moment to think about what makes 80s horror iconic. It is the villain (Freddy, Jason and Michael comes to mind) and the scream queen (the character of Laurie in Halloween for example). This is what makes Bed of the Dead great. Black Fawn Films is iconic for this as well: creating the perfect prop with whatever budget they have and making it the best version possible and finding the girl that fits right in the role. The main players of Bed of the Dead is Alysa King as Sandy and quite unforgettably the bed (which wasn’t originally conceptualized in this way), however this one still proves to be incredibly menacing. The bed itself is the character. There are sound cues and because we are thrown into the situation before really knowing each of the characters, we never know what to expect until someone or themselves recount their story and we wonder how they will be taken out. Talking about sound cues before, the music of Bed of the Dead is also quite fitting. Stephanie Copeland puts together a mesmerizing soundtrack to match with the story.
Bed of the Dead may not be the best movie on the list but it definitely is the one with a lot of heart and passion put in it, and definitely a pleasant surprise. It has a beautifully carved cursed bed with a lot of character and even a back story and a protagonist for us to cheer for. It is predictable in some parts and also suffers from some not so memorable roles, but there are still some decent twists as the use a mix of mechanics especially in the time manipulation bits. However, we do need to remember the intention of the movie is to entertain. Bed of the Dead does a lot of that layered with a great soundtrack and a well-executed storyline even between some silly moments.
Director: Jeff Maher
Writer: Jeff Maher
Cast: Colin Price, Alysa King, Gwenlyn Cumyn, Dennis Andres, George Krissa, Joseph Cannata