Under the Bed (2012)
Review by Jude Felton
In 2012 we were hit by the double-whammy of two films directed by Steven C. Miller; in the shape of The Aggression Scale and Silent Night. Both of these sat very well with me, having enjoyed both immensely, hence them making my favorite films of the year list. I was also fully aware that he had another film in the works, which was Under the Bed, although it is only now seeing the light of day through XLrator Media’s Macabre imprint.
Whilst both of his previous films were probably more instant in their delivery, Under the Bed is a far more measured and steady film, in terms of taking us to our destination, and as such may put off some viewers. Personally, I thought it came across as a far more personal movie, even if Miller didn’t write it himself; although it does tap into a fear that many of us had when we were youngsters, and that is the monster that hides under our beds.
The film itself focuses on Neal, a slightly wayward teen, who returns home to his father’s house after a lengthy absence. Things aren’t exactly smooth sailing there, with his father on the verge of a nervous breakdown and his step-mother and brother, Paulie, seemingly riding the storm. It’s not made any easier by the fact that not only are Neal and Paulie scared of the monster under the bed, they are both fully aware that it is indeed real. Having previously fought it, they must muster up the courage to once again do battle.
In Under the Bed a good portion of the first hour of the film is taken up focusing on the family dynamics, and tribulations that go along with that, as well as gradual hints of the menace that lurks beneath the bed. So, there is a real focus on the atmosphere and tone of the film, which on the whole is quite dark and oppressive, before unleashing a bucket load of grue in the latter stages.
The film itself, to me, came across as a marriage of styles that once again might not sit well with some, as it blends the kid-orientated style of movie, such as The Gate or more recently Joe Dante’s The Hole, with a family drama and a full-blooded monster flick, complete with blood and guts.
Whether or not this works for you will rest solely on what your expectation levels are. For me, I liked the direction Under the Bed took, although the pacing was a slight issue for me; it does take a while to get where it’s going.
As a film though, it shows a director that is growing, and is not afraid to spread his wings a little, and try something new. Now, while it may not be entirely successful on all counts, it does work on many, such as the technical level, the depth of story and achieving the creepy as well as the gory. Miller is four films into his career now, as a director, and three of which are original material, with the other being a loose remake (Silent Night). Personally speaking that is to be commended as we still get the continual barrage of remakes and sequels.
The DVD which I reviewed didn’t appear to come with any special features, which is a shame as I would have liked to have watched it with an audio commentary, which could have shed a little more light on what Miller’s intentions were for the film.
Overall, I think Under the Bed will probably be his most divisive film yet. It works on many levels, but does fall short in some. It is far too violent to be a kid’s horror flick, yet it may be too kid friendly for the hardcore horror set. I found it best to approach it with an open mind and to applaud the areas that did work, which for me far outweighed those that didn’t.
Miller is definitely a director to keep an eye on, in terms of delivery horror and dark drama, and Under the Bed is more of a step across, rather than a step up or down. I’m certainly eager to see what he has lined up for us next.
Under the Bed is released on Blu-ray and DVD on July 30th from XLrator Media.