Review

Review

FEARNET Movie Review: 'Under the Bed'

up
26

under the bedWhen most horror-loving filmmakers "hearken back" to the great old 1980s, they do it a lot like Adam Green did in his broadly (and gorily) likable Hatchet trilogy: they remind the viewer what we (hopefully) love and remember from the horror movies we saw when we were younger. A lot of those movies were pretty darn silly, but we loved them all the same -- a sentiment that certainly works for children of any generation.

 
Then there are scrappy little indies like Under the Bed, which do all they can to pay homage to "kid-focused" thrillers like The Gate, Poltergeist, Silver Bullet, and Stand By Me. As directed by the prolific Steven Miller (The Aggression Scale, Silent Night, Automation Transfusion) and written by Eric Stolze, Under the Bed earns a lot of points for effort and execution -- especially on such a small budget -- and it has just enough assets to let us forgive the film's slightly rocky beginning.
 
It's a simple story of two estranged young brothers who have been reunited after the semi-mysterious death of their mother, and it soon becomes plainly clear to Neal (Jonny Weston) and little Paulie (Gattlin Griffith) that something nefarious resides, you guessed it, under the bed. Disbelieving father, strange stepmother, unkind neighborhood kids, and of course the specter of their deceased mother greet the brothers at every turn, and just when the movie starts to feel a bit too earnest and chatty for its own good...
 
...it turns into a fast-paced and surprisingly rough little monster movie! Several solid chills, kills, and scrapes -- but nothing too nasty, all things considered, and the end result is a movie that feels a bit schizophrenic here and there, but also delivers some legitimately good horror moments because it took some time to introduce us to the kids. Once Under the Bed gets over some narrative speed-bumps it starts to cook, and sure, it does manage to evoke the sort of movies it's emulating.
 
The two lead kids are pretty great together, which certainly helps make the quieter moments more effective, but for all its attempts at nostalgia-tinged innocence, Under the Bed is at its best when it's just a straightforward "monster in the closet" indie. There's some real honesty in the quieter stuff between the young leads, but the movie is simply at its best when it's a straight-out monster movie. This one might not rank as the scariest or most powerful horror movies you'll see all year, but it is evidence of some filmmakers who like to pay respect to the movies that turned them into filmmakers. That -- along with a really cool monster -- is usually worth 88 minutes of your time.
<none>