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Bed of the Dead (Fantasia Review)

Bed of the Dead (Fantasia Review)
07.17.2016by: Eric Walkuski
5 10

PLOT: Four friends planning to spend the night together in a seedy brothel discover all too late that the emperor bed they're curled up on is actually cursed, and if they attempt to flee they'll be sliced and diced by whatever haunts the hellish thing.

REVIEW: An ambitious attempt to pair an inherently silly concept (and title) with a serious approach, Jeff Maher's BED OF THE DEAD is an admirable fail that has a preposterous screenplay to thank for the many marks it misses. It may well find some fans thanks to the handful of scenes of effective ghoulishness, but it's pretty doubtful this one will make a serious impact on anyone.

If Pinhead owned a bed it would likely resemble the super-sized bed of the title; the thing's frame was made out of a tree used for hangings and other atrocities some hundreds of years ago, hence it's a very unlucky place to lay your head. (Is the Mattress of the Dead bought separately?) Somehow it has ended up in a sleazy sex hotel somewhere in Canada, although a string of horrific incidents befalling any who use it has relegated it to being shut down indefinitely. Four friends planning on an orgy manage to bribe their way into the room, kickstarting a night that gets very wet in all the wrong ways.

The foursome (can't say any of the characters are particularly memorable) quickly learn that once you get in the bed, you'd do well to not get out. For starters you'll start hallucinating people and events from your sordid past, things the others can't see, and then you'll be shredded by unseen assailants. Eventually, only one victim remains, and her only hope is a hard-drinking, traumatized detective (is there any other kind?) who she gets in touch with on the phone. Even though he's a few hours in the future.

You read that right. BED OF THE DEAD feels it necessary to add a baffling story element that focuses on the detective investigating the murder of all four friends while also speaking to one of them. Hence, the stuff with them actually happened in the very recent past. It's a LOOPER-esque gimmick; where the girl can scratch her name in the headboard and then he sees the scratches appear in front of his eyes. It's unnecessary, and the timelines never add up. Nitpicking, maybe, but this element of the film is botched so egregiously that it holds everything else back. Additionally, Maher and his co-writer Cody Calahan take a lot of liberties with how much we're going to allow them to get away with, with characters saying and doing things that serve only the increasingly shaky story structure. Yet another twist to this whole thing is that everyone who gets on the bed and dies apparently deserves this fate; it just so happens almost every person who touches the damned thing is either a murderer, molester or something in between.

If it seems like I'm harping too much on the screenplay of a movie called BED OF THE DEAD, it's only because the movie presents all of this very matter-of-factly. That is to say, this movie about four friends who planned an orgy on a bed they now can't get out of is played totally straight. And while I have to give the creative team props for that, it just doesn't work. BED OF THE DEAD tries to juggle more than it can handle and tries to get deep a handful of times, and I couldn't help to wonder if Maher and crew might have been wiser to make their cursed bed movie a bit more fun and less bogged down with all the other hocus pocus.

Blood is sprayed plentifully, yes, the movie is at its best when it's sticking to the basics and making things ghastly for its protagonists. (I particularly like the one poor soul who almost literally crumples to the ground.) BED OF THE DEAD actually might have made for a pretty shocking little short; cut out all the other fluff, stay with the bed-bound suckers as they get destroyed one by one.

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