The real bogeyman is incomprehensible plotting in director Steven C. Miller’s Under the Bed, which matches narrative incoherence with one of the most over-the-top portentous scores in horror-cinema history. Ryan Dodson’s exaggerated musical accompaniment is all the more hilarious for being so ubiquitous, even during a first half in which nothing happens except a lot of yelling between back-from-exile teen Neal (Jonny Weston) and dad Terry (Peter Holden), who’s still mad at Neal for lighting the fire that killed the boy’s mom two years earlier. That tragedy, it turns out, was actually caused by the giant limping demon-monster-whatsit that lives under Neal’s bed and also haunts his brother, Paulie (Gattlin Griffith), all for reasons never explicated by Eric Stolze’s jumbled script. Instead of, say, a manifestation of the boys’ grief, the creature is instead a generic unholy monster with an arbitrary obsession with hapless Neal, whose primary plan of attack is to shine flashlights at it and then run away screaming. Though the boys initially claim that the monster can only attack them when they’re asleep (à la Freddy Krueger), that soon proves untrue, but not for any good reason—rather, it’s just because when Under the Bed isn’t making up haphazard rules about its central fiend, it’s busy breaking them.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 17, 2013