Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy
By Steve Anderson
November 1st, 2013

Under the Bed

Under The Bed
Directed by Steven C. Miller
Written by Eric Stolze
Starring Peter Holden, Musetta Vander, Jonny Weston
88 minutes

I have to hand it to XLRator Media, who has been bringing out some interesting stuff of late. This time around, we're talking about "Under The Bed," a movie that takes one of the biggest fears of childhood and ratchets it up a notch or several.

"Under the Bed" introduces us to Neal, a young man with a bit of a troubled past. His mother recently died under somewhat mysterious circumstances, and he was sent off to live with his aunt following the incident. That particular exile lasted fully two years, and now, Neal is coming home. But his father has remarried in that time, and doesn't have much patience for Neal's stories, which mostly involve an eldritch horror trying to kill him. The beast has taken up residence--as the title suggests--under the bed. But now, Neal's little brother Paulie is starting to have similar experiences, and that's prompting Neal to enlist Paulie in an attempt to take down the horror. But will it be enough?

"Under The Bed" is a good news / bad news sort of situation that averages out to pretty good. "Under The Bed"'s biggest strength is in its ability to generate foreboding. There are lots of great and reasonably scary sequences that should put a chill in even a reasonably jaded viewer. On that front, it's pretty well done. But where "Under the Bed" could stand a bit of shoring up was in its overall plot presentation.

I was left oddly fuzzy on some critical points, like why this monster under the bed wanted Neal dead quite so badly. There wasn't also a lot of explanation as to why the father is basically going fruitcrackers, at least not much beyond the general standard of "I think my son is batshit insane and I have not clue one what to do about it." Seriously, one minute the guy's convinced that everything will be better if his eldest son would just get a job. The next moment everything will be fixed by locking the brothers in one particular room. Then it will all be fixed with the aid of a sleepover with the neighbors. Hand it to the guy for trying literally absolutely everything to fix his son's issues, but he's also being ridiculously heavy-handed about the whole thing, and everything he tries is so seemingly random it's almost like he should be wearing a shirt that says "I Am A Plot Device" written across the front of it.

The ending may well be one of the biggest unexplained points about the whole affair, and though it's reasonable enough on the outside, looking closer shows just how nonsensical it really is. If you're willing to play it as it lays, so to speak, it'll do just fine. Looking for the sense of it all, meanwhile, sends you on a trip to nowhere that's much less satisfying than you'd think.

The special features here include a choice of audio options and trailers for "Under The Bed," "Saturday Morning Mystery," "Inbred," and "American Mary," though only "Under The Bed" will be available from the main menu.

To be clear, "Under The Bed" has more than a little going for it, and it's actually pretty fun to watch. Looking at it closely, however, shows where the shiny chrome is peeling off and where the body's got a little more rust on it than anyone might have seen coming. Still, for those willing to allow for some missteps and some weakly-explained spots, "Under The Bed" will prove a reasonably scary experience for those involved.