Monday, October 21, 2013

Under the Bed (2012) movie review

Director: Steven C. Miller

Writer: Eric Stolze

Starring: Jonny Weston, Gattlin Griffith, Peter Holdenthe monster isn't an excuse to keep the lights on, it's real. It reaches our from under Neal's bed at night, fishing for its prey, hoping to drag its catch down to its own personal, oddly membrane-ish underworld. Why Paulie would continue to sleep in Neal's bed while he was away, knowing it lived under there, is anyone's guess, but it established a bond of brotherhood between the two. Their new stepmother is no help, even after seeing anti-gravitional signs of the creature, and their father is obviously trying to win some kind of asshole of the year award. So they're on their own, to theorizesewers, dead-bodies, mole-people, MorlocksHell. It's an extension of the fear of the unknown, a fear ofthe only two places (under your bed, or in your closet), that you can't see while laying down, which is when you're at your most vulnerable. It's a primitive anxiety that dates back to our hunting & gathering days when the most opportune time for a predator to eviscerate us was when we were asleep. At this point it's intrinsic and probably written into our genetic code, and this newest Steven C. Miller flick attempts to exploit that inherent fear, much like Monster in the Closet did in the mid-80 s.

As a filmmaker Miller just keeps getting better and better with each film. Since Automaton Transfusion was his first film, and it completely sucked Bazooka Joe's balls despite having excellent gore, he had nowhere to go but up. His sophomore effort Scream of the Banshee (an After Dark title) was infinitely more polished & competent, but still pretty much sucked aforementioned balls, even though you could tell he was improving and really building up to something. That something was his third film, The Aggression Scale, which was essentially Home Alone meets Rambo. Now it was obvious Miller had become a force to be reckoned with, and his talent was undeniable. His next effort, Silent Night (Silent Night Deadly Night remake), wasn't as good as his previous film, or even its predecessor, but it was far from bad. On the contrary, it was a solid addition to his filmography, and a worthy remake. It was at this point you could tell Miller had developed his stride. Which brings us to Under the Bed, his fifth feature length filmbut really chronologically his fourthbut DVD-wise his fifth. At this juncture in time it seems like he's abandoned his Automation Transfusion trilogy (which isn't a bad thing, as the first was god-awful), and has been busy making horror flickthe gore I mean. So fantastic I wish there were more OF it. That's to to say there isn't a lot. In the scenes that feature it, it is spraying like a pissed off geyser with a speech impediment, there just aren't too many of those scenes to speak of. So if you're a parent who might want to watch it with your kid this Halloween season despite its R rating, that might be your only concern, but only if gore concerns you.

The atmosphere, on the other hand, is thick. It's not as great as it is in something like let's say; Dead Silence, Mama, or Insidious, but it's enough to lend the film an ominous energy. The final sequence capitalizes on said atmosphere with frighteningly frenetic vigor bursting with gore. Everything the movie had been building toward was well worth the wait. The creature, when you get get to see it in full-view is a nightmare to behold. Stan Winston would be proud. I like that it's a new breed of creature with its own set of powers and weaknesses, even if I didn't fully understand them. The anti-gravity and the mist it generated were nice touches, a neat way to give the creature its own interesting attributes, and the glimpse into its netherworld really rounded the whole experience out.

It's the sum of all these small parts that gave the film its own identity amongst its peers. It's gratifying to see a genuinely good creature flick every so often; one that doesn't consist of poor CGI, or a dart-board produced Syfy abomination. Sure the ending left a lot to be desired, specifically the coup de grace of the creature, and they could have exploited the fear of monsters under one's bed a bit more by including an even younger character, which would have added some much needed tension to the film, but overall it was a frightful delight. The theme of brotherhood in the face of adversity is a powerful element, and always makes for a great story, especially when combined with something as common, nostalgic and relatable as the fear of a monster under the bed.

Posted by: Dave "Captain Insanity" Caroleo
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