Wednesday, August 1, 2012

UNDER THE BED (2012) movie review

Under the Bed (2012) d. Miller, Steven C. (USA)

After being sent away two years prior for burning down their house, troubled teen Jonny Weston returns to live with his father (Peter Holden), younger brother (Gattlin Griffith) and new stepmother (Musetta Vander), but it seems the literal monsters of the past are still present…and hungry. Even if director Miller hadn’t said in his pre-show intro that this was his ode to Spielberg-era kid-horror films like The Goonies and Poltergeist, it’s clear that’s the note he’s striving for from the opening frame. Unfortunately, he’s also clearly interested in doing his version of a Spielberg-era kid-horror film, and like last year’s Super 8, pale imitations – however well intentioned – are no substitute for the real thing.

With the exception of Griffith’s appealing tyke, all the characters are off-putting – from Weston’s eternally gloomy gus to Vander’s twitchy histrionics to Holden’s bid for “worst screen father of the year” – and worse, there is absolutely no humor to be found, a required staple of the “kids horror” subgenre. There is, however, a pretty nifty practical monster that shows up in the final reel, but Miller missteps again by delivering explicit and frightening gore sequences, making me wonder exactly which kids he was making this film for. Not to say I disliked the finale, because it is easily the best part; it’s that the previous hour so firmly treads in PG-13 terrain that the gratuitous, out of place shift to hard R is truly puzzling. A decidedly mixed bag from the director of Automaton Transfusion and the upcoming Silent Night, Deadly Night remake.

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