Under the Bed explores territory that isn’t unfamiliar to horror fans but the dark and twisted way in which Steven C. Miller explores it will be new to audiences. The film follows brothers Paulie and Neal as they battle the monster that lives under their bed. The pair fights for their survival and to save the lives of their loved ones in this demented fairy tale.
Under the Bed is directed by up-and-coming genre film director Steven C. Miller (Silent Night) and written by Eric Stolze. The combination of Stolze’s script and Miller’s sharp directorial eye makes for a perfect pairing. The screenplay is creative and well written and Miller’s prowess as a director is highly apparent throughout the film.
The difference between Under the Bed and a lot of other horror films with young protagonists is that the audience doesn’t always know that this film is going to have a happy ending and doesn’t necessarily know that the youthful heroes are going to escape with their lives intact.
The performances are mostly good. Under the Bed is smartly cast with talented young actors (Johnny Weston and Gattlin Griffith) that are able to believably convey the story. Peter Holden is equally good as the boys’ troubled father.
Steven C. Miller has created an R-rated horror film that is designed to appeal to older children and adults. It’s the kind of movie that a horror fan can show their teenager without the inevitable awkwardness that comes from watching a film with topless women parading around a campground whilst running from a masked killer. The film is not necessarily safe for young viewers, but kids 13 and up that understand the delineation between fantasy and reality will likely enjoy this picture.
The film is slow burn. Under the Bed spends a lot of time establishing backstory and developing its characters but it stays mostly entertaining while doing so. The characters and their stories are interesting and the final act is an exciting payoff. The scenes where the boys are forced to confront the monster head on are powerful and scary. Since we have grown fond of the characters, the intensity is even more unbearable than if we were to see throwaway characters that we weren’t invested in put in the same situation.
Another great thing about Under the Bed is that it really takes in to account how important cinematography is to the success or failure of a film. Surprisingly enough, a lot of directors don’t seem to grasp that. When the boys head in to the monster’s den, the camerawork, lighting, and use of different lenses ads another layer of intensity to the jarring manner in which the scenes play out. Unlike a lot of independent films, the scenes that take place in the dark aren’t so shadowy as to obscure the character’s faces or force the viewer to squint to make out what it going on.
Miller is known to be a fan of practical FX and the effects are very well executed. He wisely allocated his limited budget and employed the use of practical, man-in-a-suit effects to create the monster; his decision to do so makes his film more atmospheric and ultimately more believable. Had Miller decided to use CGI to portray the monster, it would have been a major detriment to the outcome of the film.
The film has some telltale signs that it was made on a low budget. But with that aside, it is an enjoyable film that is mostly family friendly. Under the Bed came out on DVD and Blu-ray last summer. If you haven’t seen this one, make a point to check it out. It’s a lot of fun and will likely bring back memories of horror films like The Gate.
Director(s): Steven C. Miller
Writer(s): Eric Stolze
Stars: Gattlin Griffith, Johnny Weston, Peter Holden
Studio/ Production Co: Site B, Through the Heart
Length: 87 Minutes
Sub-Genre: Creature Feature