Bed of the Dead

Inanimate objects have always been fodder for horror and applying the supernatural to them is great way to make us fear the mundane. Haunted cars, dolls and mirrors have been examples of this, and now the Black Fawn Films gang has brought us another household item that strikes fear in the hearts of those seeking some randy fun with Bed of the Dead.

Five bodies have been found in room 18 at the Anarchist Sex Club. Some are burned to a crisp and some sport inexplicable wounds. Troubled detective Virgil Carter (Colin Price) is investigating the puzzling and gruesome crime scene, and through a series of flashbacks, we learn the victims were out for a night of debauchery at the club.

Celebrating his birthday with a promised foursome that includes his girlfriend Sandy (Alysa King), Nancy (Gwenlyn Cumyn) and her boyfriend Fred (George Krissa), Ren (Dennis Andres) resorts to bribing the front desk, when the club no longer has rooms available, in order to secure a place for their group fun. At first he is pleased to receive an emperor sized bed for their sexual romp, but the festivities are reduced to blood and terror as the bed in question becomes their judge and jury.

Through his investigation, Carter will discover the dark secrets of the doomed victims, and his own redemption, as he battles against time and his personal demons.

Bed of the Dead has a dash of everything: comedy, drama, lots of gore and an interesting premise with some time-bending trippiness. Director Jeff Maher creates a seedy, back alley world with very few props and sets for his first feature-length film. Through his use of dim lighting he also gives the production an effectively menacing, red-light district look which I suspect comes from his days as a cinematographer. The title leaves you wondering if this will be a straight horror comedy, but the unexpected dramatic turn lets you know things are a bit more serious.

The film starts with a quick synopsis of the antique bed’s Druid inspired origins (including a fun cameo by Black Fawn alumni director and the film’s producer Chad Archibald) followed by flashbacks that reveal the story. The performances from the cast will keep you invest enough to dislike almost all of them, and great practical special effects from Hamilton’s own special FX studio The Butcher Shop will effectively hold your interest as well. Yes, Bed of the Dead gets a bit of schlocky with the way it handles some of the kills, a J-horror nod, and the surly, been-through-hell-and-back detective, but that’s also part of the film’s draw.

Those wanting a bit of horror fun will definitely get it with Bed of the Dead, but there’s also a message at the end of the film that, although it seems a little out of place for a horror about a haunted bed, is powerfully executed, timely, and adds some depth to the overall production.

Monday, October 17, 9:30 PM, Scotiabank Theatre

Tickets can be purchased at the Toronto After Dark website.

This review was original published as part of our 2016 Fantasia coverage

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