'Bed of the Dead': Fantasia Review

BED OF THE DEAD STILL - Publicity - H 2016
Courtesy of Fantasia International Film Festival

BED OF THE DEAD STILL - Publicity - H 2016

A D-grade detective yarn grafted to a C-grade horror pic.

A would-be orgy turns deadly in Jeff Maher's directing debut.

Viewers who can fondly remember, as children, playing some version of the "anybody who gets off the bed (or couch, or whatever) will die!" game would probably be better off not seeing Bed of the Dead, which expends a lot of money and a good deal of fake blood showing just how dumb that fantasy was. Plenty of fun fright-flicks start from nonsense premises, but Bed not only fails to transcend this one, it doesn't even follow through on the trashy exploitation promised by its sex-hotel setting. Commercial prospects are slim in the crowded horror marketplace.

Virgil Carter (Colin Price) is an alcoholic police detective who seems to have just been canned from some third-rate made-for-TV policier and awakened with a hangover in this one. He's sent to investigate a fire at the "Anarchists' Sex Club," where at least five people have died under or around an "Emperor-sized" bed in Room 18.

Flash back to the previous night, as two couples decide to celebrate a birthday with a foursome in this trashy place. The horndog scenario goes nowhere, though, and the disappointed youths are already nodding off before they individually get visits from demons their bedmates can't see.

Turns out, this bed was carved from a tree creepy monks once used to lynch people. Ask 50 strangers, and at least 49 would say that tarrying in such a bed is probably a bad idea. For reasons the film doesn't make clear, our heroes decide they're going to die if they leave it. And rather than huddle in a panic, they sit around hoping to be rescued until they, and all but the most forgiving genre fans, get bored.

At some point, Sandy (Alysa King), one of the ladies in the bed, realizes that her phone can send texts through time, communicating with the cop who's investigating her death a few hours from now. Is this because the non-evil variety of monks built her phone? Maybe, but probably not. Instead of pursuing this question, the movie watches as Sandy and Virgil try to figure out why all this is happening and whether there's any way to stop it before it already happens, or some kind of verb-tense-disrupting thing to that effect.

Along the way, Maher and Cody Calahan's script makes ill-advised references to real-world concerns, tying characters to mass school shootings and to white-on-black police violence. Such topics would be a buzzkill in a movie that was showing us a good time. Bed of the Dead, by contrast, has no buzz to kill.

Venue: Fantasia Film Festival
Production companies: Black Fawn Films, Breakthrough Entertainment
Cast: Colin Price, Alysa King, Gwenlyn Cumyn, Dennis Andres, George Krissa
Director: Jeff Maher
Screenwriters: Jeff Maher, Cody Calahan
Producers: Chad Archibald, Cody Calahan, Christopher Giroux, Jeff Maher
Executive producers: Nat Abraham, Ira Levy, Michael McGuigan, Peter Williamson
Director of photography: Micha Dahan        
Production designer: Justin Reu        
Editor: Nick Montgomery        
Composer: Steph Copeland        
Casting director: Ashley Hallihan         

Not rated, 84 minutes