Four people find themselves stuck on a haunted antique bed where leaving means suffering a gruesome death. Plagued with frightening hallucinations, they must figure out the bed’s secrets before they are ultimately picked off one by one.
What do two sexy young couples, a hard-nosed and drug-addicted detective, and a haunted bed frame have in common? They all appear in director and co-writer Jeff Maher’s 2016 thriller, The Dwelling. This movie is a paranormal crime thriller that was created by Black Fawn Films, who did Bite (2015), and also the critically acclaimed Heretics (2017). Full of gore and blood, and also some mind-fuc*ery with a time-bending aspect to this unique plot, The Dwelling is a somewhat sexy, ‘another one bites the dust’ flick, where the premise of a killer bed may sound silly but the kills and thrills are deathly serious.
A tree with a history of being used for hangings is cut down and fashioned into a bed by a mysterious woodworker. Lasting through the passing of time, the bed winds up in the bowels of a fetish-themed hotel as the centerpiece in room number 18. On one fateful night, two couples — Nancy (Gwenlyn Cumyn) and Fred (George Krissa), and Sandy (Alysa King) and Ren (Dennis Andres) — arrive to celebrate Ren’s birthday with an evening of couples’ swinging and inquire about renting a room for the night. Though the front desk informs them that “the room with the emperor-size bed” they requested is under renovation, Ren pays extra to gain access. Their night of sexy-time soon turns to scary times when each of them begins to see and hear disturbing hallucinations. Nearly all of them have committed grave sins that the powerful bed deems they must be punished for, but a detective named Virgil (Colin Price) tasked with solving their deaths… in the future… seems to be their lifeline to possible deliverance. However, they find that once they touch the bed they are bound to face their sins or perish trying to run from them. They made their bed, and now they can die in it!
The Dwelling seemed like it would be a camp-tastrophy with its scenario of 4 sexy adults being stuck on a bed together, however, the acting turned out to be pretty darn believable and the film does not waste much time diving into the goriness. A few of the hallucinations were quite disturbing, the scarier ones ranging from a creature similar to the Spider Head from The Thing (1982), a bloodsoaked little boy, to a woman similar in aesthetic to the girl from The Ring (2002). There is some sick body horror that David Cronenberg might even be proud of, and in one particularly cool shot, blood rains down to baptize these sinners.
The cast of sinners were: Colin Price, Alysa King, Gwenlyn Cumyn, George Krissa, and Dennis Andres. Their performances were better than expected and they did especially well in the death scenes, but I feel like the film dipped at certain points due to the writing failing the direction and acting. The characters understand the ridiculous situation of what is happening to them all too easily, and besides the detective, there is not much character development so when they die off there is no emotional impact. The film moves at a quick pace due to the writing skipping over these points, but overall, the film is pretty cool all things considered — the gruesomeness of the deaths, the cinematography and set design looks good, the production is of high quality, and though the storyline is a little confusing with the different time periods involved it is a cohesive and interesting premise and this aspect to the story is ultimately what gives the movie its great ending of the villain — the bed — never dying.
With a plot of characters not being able to touch the floor, the film reminded me of playing the lava game as a child! Also, a bit of 1408 (2007) and its psychological and chronological trickery, only much gorier and crazier, and also reminded me a little of Devil (2010) by its sin/punishment concept while stuck in somewhere with a paranormal entity. The movie was a mixed bag of crime and mystery, psychological thriller, horror, surrealism, and time-bending. From Uncork’d Entertainment, the distribution company that has put out some pretty good horrors and thrillers as of late — Dolls, The Dark Within, Desolate — I wouldn’t sleep on this film either, especially if you are a fan of gore.
The Dwelling will be released on VOD and DVD November 26.