J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Fantasia ’16: Bed of the Dead

Dr. Drew could have told them it would end badly, but even he would be surprised by the chaos wrought. A horny man-child convinces his girlfriend, his best bud, and his gf to join him for a four-some in the private room of a sketchy sex club. Sounds like a plan, right? Unfortunately, a demonic piece of furniture ruins all the fun in Jeff Maher’s Bed of the Dead (trailer here), which screens during the 2016 Fantasia International Film Festival.

Its Ren’s birthday so put on your party hat or whatever. After taking in a burlesque show with Sandy, Fred and Nancy, he wants to celebrate in a private room. It rather aptly looks like something out of a Hammer Horror film, but it has a bed big enough to accommodate them all.

Right, so about that bed. When the other three admit they just aren’t feeling it, they try to simply crash-out, but the bed has other ideas. It starts sending them twisted visions, killing them off one by one. Presumably, it gets the entire quartet, plus a spare in the hallway, because Canada’s most disgraced cop has five charred bodies on his hands. He quickly learns the room has a tragic history—and then things get really complicated in term of both narrative and genre. There just might be someone for him to save after all.

Given the premise and setting, it is remarkable how little sexification went into Bed. Apparently, Maher and co-screenwriter Cody Calahan preferred to focus on plot and characterization. Go figure. As a result, Bed is solidly above genre average on both counts. Arguably, it becomes as much science fiction or urban fantasy as it is horror down the stretch, but that unexpected turn is a good thing.

Alysa King gives Sandy, the possible final girl real dimension and emotional cred. Colin Price also grows into the hardboiled role of Det. Virgil quite nicely, while Dennis Andres has a Vince Vaughn thing going on as Ren that works in context.

If you can stifle your pedantic impulses, Bed is a surprisingly satisfying fantastical film. Fantasia is probably the best possible venue for it, because it straddles genre boundaries, but it is definitely not the sort of film you will see on Lifetime TV anytime soon. Recommended for fans of dark strangeness, Bed of the Dead screens again August 1st during this year’s Fantasia in Montreal.

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