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Christopher Webster [Celluloid 08.06.13] horror

While I applaud Steven C. Miller for his love of PG-13 horror flicks and believe he's got the chops to bring a good one to light one day (Silent Night if a solid flick), Under the Bed just doesn't live up to the films that inspired it.

Miller has a gift for staging some striking horror (if the film's first image doesn't give you chills you're dead inside), but the story about two brothers who fight a monster under the bed in suburbia is so underdeveloped and the logic of the monster so ill conceived that the film feels under cooked.

The first half in particular plays less like a story and more like sitting through an hour of placeholder beats until the movie can pay off the concept in the last act. Older brother Neal has returned home after being sent away following a fire (which we know was the result of a run-in with said monster). Played admirably by Jonny Weston, Neal is sullen and nonplussed to be back home, except to watch out for his little brother who has been dealing with the same monster. That's it really.

I imagine Under the Bed sounded great in a pitch meeting, but the it really should have developed beyond the high concept. The monster is great. Really great. But a great looking practical monster with no logic behind it falls flat.

I know that, as subtext, the monster is a stand-in for family problems and when the kids battle it, it's a metaphor for the problem of growing up. You can tell that Miller and writer Eric Stolze understand what's at the heart of their film, they just failed to create a compelling scenario to bring it to light.

For its part, the practical creature FX are reason enough to stick with Under the Bed until the bitter end and in classic Miller fashion we're treated to a bloodbath when the creature finally makes his grand entrance. We're even given a glimpse into another realm which showcases some great in-camera wizardry.

Under the Bed was made with love in the great can-do, slimy spirit of indie horror and for that it's an interesting film, but general audiences will find the lackluster storytelling, lack of scares and slow pace frustrating.

As for the DVD there isn't a single special feature. Too bad, because I have a feeling the story of making the film is probably more entertaining that the final product.

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Michael Allen (8 years ago) Reply

I reviewed this one on my own site this week and it was truly disappointing. I think it was a rushed script and rushed shooting schedule. I am still a fan of Miller, but I would like to see him pick better films.


j.j. (8 years ago) Reply

In general I think his films are OK. I have never seen a movie he made that I thought sucked. But I have never been like 'this film rocks'. It amazes me that he makes as many films as he does given they are all just 'OK'. But good for him, and I hope the next effort is better.

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