As it turns out, sometimes Goonies DO die…

We were all there once – a noise from under the bed or out of the closet caused you to scream out in terror. When your parents rushed in, you were assured that there is no such thing as monsters and that nothing was going to get you. Guess what – your parents were lying.

After spending some time away from home to cope with the accidental death of his mother in a house fire, teenager Neal (Jonny Weston), returns to his still unforgiving father, new step-mother, and younger brother, Paulie (Gattlin Griffith). Neal maintains that it was the monster under his bed at fault for everything, and now it’s after Paulie. The two brothers must work together to stop this evil creature if they ever expect to have a good night’s sleep again.

Under the Bed
Steven C. Miller
Jonny Weston, Gattlin Griffith and Peter Holden
Release Date
3 July, 2013
Influx Grade: B

It seems easy to compare director Steven C. Miller’s film to the kid-friendly horror/action flicks that many of us grew up with in the 80’s – The Goonies, Poltergeist, The Monster Squad, and The Gate all spring to mind. And, for awhile, you’d be right. The kids fear monsters, but of course no one over the voting age will believe them (until, of course, such a time as a story like this REQUIRES them to find out what’s really going on). There’s even a goofy montage involving the making of homemade weapons and, in a nice touch, the movie has its own child-created mythology in how to keep safe from monsters.

Then, out of nowhere, this family friendly monster flick very suddenly transforms into a quite vicious, gruesome creature feature (another 80’s staple). The tonal shift is so sudden that if you take your bathroom break at the wrong time, you’d be forgiven for mistakenly thinking that you walked back into a different movie. This last portion has a nasty streak running through it during most of the kills, but is still pretty fun nonetheless. The practical effects are quite well done, especially in a deadly bed scene that makes you forget that the movie Death Bed: The Bed That Eats People ever existed (well, let’s be honest – you had ALREADY forgotten that movie existed and you’re welcome for the reminder). Bonus points also for an engaging score that’s paired with a pretty effective sound design.

Weston and Griffith are believable as brothers – you truly feel that they are watching out for each other. As a worst-father-of-the-year candidate, Peter Holden seems to be playing the dad with only two bits of direction – yell and yell often. If he’s not shouting at one of the kids, he is not on screen. In a change from the normal horror film treatment of stepparents, Musetta Vander’s portrayal of the boys’ new mom shows the most sympathy towards their fears and is certainly the most normal character of the bunch. Unnecessarily, Neal is also given a romantic subplot that not seems out of place, but also feels as if it was shoehorned in simply because, after all, anytime a character in a horror movie returns home after a long absence, there must be an unresolved relationship just waiting to be rekindled.

Jason’s Final Thoughts:

Despite an opening that bizarrely seems to be setting up tension that forgets to play itself out and a needlessly silly ending, Under the Bed is an enjoyable throwback to two very different 80’s genre staples. Fans will have a kick being reminded not to leave our limbs dangling off the bed when we fall asleep! If you ever wanted to find out what goes bump in the night, Under the Bed would be happy to show you.

Grade: B

Review by Jason Howard, special to Influx Magazine

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