There’s no faulting the ambition of Jeff Maher’s Bed Of The Dead, which played at Fantasia Film Festival on Saturday. It’s determined to be unencumbered by its horror comedy-sounding title, and instead launches itself into Clive Barker emotional torture territory.
However, after a strong opening twenty minutes, Bed Of The Dead has a hard time filling the remaining hour before its twisty finale.
Four guests at a brothel get the last room available, with just one antique bed. The two couples have a bit of swinging in mind, but there’s something in the room with them, and suddenly staying on the bed and staying alive becomes the number one priority. Meanwhile, disgraced alcoholic cop Virgil (Colin Price) is inching closer to finding out what’s going on.
As we said, Bed Of The Dead gets off to a strong start. Maher and his cinematographer Micha Dahan combine the seediness of the location with with a strong visual style, and there’s a striking prologue which gives us the dark and twisted history of the bed in question.
During the first act, the film makes the jump from the couples’ awkward fumblings to shocking violence very effectively, and there’s a welcome Stuart Gordon feel to the buckets of blood and gruesome effects.
Then the film slows down, and it’s a little too clear what Maher and his co-writer Cody Calahan have in mind. This might be more forgivable if the time-slipping proceedings felt a bit more energetic during the second half, but with the exception of one or two more grisly deaths, it gets increasingly plodding. By the time we’ve reached the Hellraiser sequel-ish conclusion, we found ourselves missing the unpredictability of the movie’s opening, although some viewers may well appreciate the film’s move away from schlocky madness to something more sombre.
With some great practical effects and some strong gory surprises, there are things to like her, but ultimately Bed Of The Dead doesn’t quite come together. Still, we’re definitely interested in seeing what Maher does next.
Bed Of The Dead is currently playing at Fantasia Film Festival. You can find ticket information here.