THE DWELLING (a.k.a. Bed Of The Dead) ** USA 2019 Dir: Jeff Maher. 85 mins
The Dwelling from the normally great house of Uncork’d Entertainment is a deceiving film to watch as it sets us off with a dark and powerful intro from archaic times of yore at a gallows tree that ends up as a beautifully carved bed with demonic qualities. Nice story idea and it had me expecting some super scary horror.
Then we flit back to a modern day American city where our Max Payne style washed up homicide detective Virgil Carter is investigating a gruesome multiple murder scene at a dodgy sex club known as Burlesque that is owned by a less than pleasant thug.
Forensics are going over the scene with their usual diligence and describing the horrific events for us to good effect, but I wanted to actually witness ‘eviscerated’ not be left to imagine the scene and the effects as throughout the film were quite a let down. What actually resulted was a very poor copy of the bucket of pig’s blood scene from Carrie but with less feeling or meaning.
The music is good in the background by Steph Copeland, but in some ways it gives away too much of the shock and tension far too early and the film could have portrayed this more gradually instead as it starts to degenerate into something of a farcical and silly attempt to portray the evils of dark demonic possession. Even the trapped feeling of the four victims isn’t fearful enough. They could have just run out of the room, but were too busy watching a bad copy of The Ring unfold in the corridor outside!
“What is this?” she cries and those started to become my thoughts about what had the potential to be a nice gruesome and entertaining occult film but ended up being just watchable and quite silly and unbelievable in parts, which is a shame because it built me up to a great level of expectation with a good atmospheric and dark beginning.
The acting is average and holds up well as does the music, but the story weakened a lot as I carried on watching hoping for a nice bloody twist in the tale while the story insisted on repeatedly drawing us back to the eerie carving on the bed which was too obvious and not in the least bit scary.
We next get some garbled explanations from the girls on the bed and Virgil himself by way of creating some more suspense, but it confuses the film rather than adds to it as it continues to get lost in it’s well meant but failed attempts to be clever and scary. The movie then starts to become quite a stilted and disjointed affair as we start to learn that death has many dimensions. The plot gets nice and deep but a little too late to save the film in my opinion, but do see what you think.
If you like to watch a film that simply reminds you of much better horror movies that have gone before like for fictional example,
“Max Payne Investigates The Overlook Hotel While Getting Drunk And Meets Carrie”,
then you will like this one, but it failed to work it’s demonic magic on me I’m afraid as it started to really struggle to fill it’s 85 minutes of shock time and just seemed to revel in it’s own silliness and over-sentimentality with the protagonists. The film starts introducing random elements almost as a way of apologising and explaining its lack of depth and fear which it’s good beginning says it ought to have had but lost. Talking to the dead is a nice horror angle but it’s too much for even Max Payne to handle!!!!
The film really tries it’s best to shake off it’s evil demons however, but they mess it up and leave it stranded on the Gallows Tree of Justice that does it no justice at all in the end. The individual elements of the well written script by Jeff Maher and Cody Calahan are good but pieced together badly so they come across as contrived rather than actually creating a sense of fear. I would have enjoyed this much more if the bed or the demon just actually attacked randomly at will with more visual effect so the film for me never really developed as I would have hoped.
Enjoy this nightmare though where “no one here gets out alive!”.
Review by Nathan Sandiford