Review: Under the Bed / Cert: 15 / Director: Steven C. Miller / Screenplay: Eric Stolze / Starring: Jonny Weston, Gattlin Griffith, Peter Holden, Musetta Vander / Release Date: January 6th
Under the Bed is a unique movie that focuses on the age-old idea of those monsters that lurk beneath your bed each and every night (they’re real, y’know - Starburst has seen them). Neal Hausman (Weston) is a troubled teen who has had apparent psychiatric issues. Returning home to his father (Holden) and step-mother (Vander), he is looking to get back to normality. Upon his return, he finds that his younger brother Paulie (Griffith) is experiencing the same trauma that he once went through: that there’s something under the bed that’s out to get him. With everybody, including their own family, thinking that the brothers are insane, they have to once and for all face the presence that has tormented them both.
More of a thriller than an out-and-out horror, Under the Bed starts off positively. There’s a slow, deliberate opening act, with the story progressing at an intriguing pace rather than just having everything thrown at the audience within the first twenty minutes. Granted, the film does lose its way and becomes a little too slow for its own good at times. Whilst the opening is well-paced and thought-out, the overall pacing of Under the Bed is one of its biggest problems. Clocking in at just under 90 minutes, it feels as if the movie could’ve done with an extra 20 minutes or so, mainly as the climactic act seems rushed and like an afterthought.
In terms of performances, Weston’s Neal plays out like a vacant Skeet Ulrich (also known as modern-day Skeet Ulrich), as he oozes mystique and instability through rigid cheekbones and distant, icy stares. In a movie that plays like Boogeyman-meets-Goosebumps, Weston does his best with what he has to work with. The rest of the cast are nothing too horrendous, and Peter Holden does well as the father who has been pushed to his limits. Young Gattlin Griffith shows a lot of promise as the younger Hausman brother, and his chemistry with Weston’s Neal is one of the film's highlights.
Sadly for Under the Bed, despite a solid opening, the film just feels flat and unbalanced. After a completely gore-free first 70 minutes, the final 15 minutes deliver a blood-soaked finale that feels out of synch with the rest of the movie. Added to that, it really does feel that the story would’ve been better suited to an episode of Goosebumps or Eerie Indiana. Unfortunately, Under the Bed lacks the charm and playfulness of those shows, feeling like a film that takes itself too seriously for what it is trying to be yet steers clear of committing to any risks that would push it towards a more adult audience.