Plot: Kilee (Bec Bassinger) has struggled to cope in the wake of her father’s death, so a change of scenery might help, but a starting over at a new school isn’t exactly a stress free dynamic. Kilee and her sister Chrissy (Madison Lawlor) clash over how to handle the loss, as while Kilee clings to the past, Chrissy thinks the best method is to push on and live life. As she unpacks, Kilee stumbles upon a creepy doll with pins stuck inside and after a quick internet search, she discovers it is a voodoo doll. She is intrigued and removes the pins, but returns to the doll after a series of low points. First she is assigned to popular Tina (Ashlee Fuss) as her guide to school, only to have a blackmail attempt made and if she doesn’t cough up, Tina plans to spread nasty rumors to ensure Kilee has a rough start. Then she and Chrissy have a big argument and in a moment of anger, she stabs a pin into the doll’s leg and hears her sister cry out in pain. But is this doll a true voodoo doll and if so, will there be a price to pay if Kilee uses the dark magic to turn her luck around?
Entertainment Value: This is a fun change of pace for Lifetime, as Killer Under the Bed has the usual melodrama, family issues, and catty females, but is firmly rooted within the horror realm. The narrative is familiar, as we’ve all seen someone haunted by the choice to use a voodoo doll, but with the Lifetime threads woven in, this feels a little fresher than usual. The tone is dark and horror slanted, so this isn’t a burst of horror thrown into a melodrama, but the opposite, a horror movie that happens to have some dashes of melodrama mixed in. The end result is a rock solid, effective genre movie that more than holds its own and is a cut above the usual made for television or DTV horror offerings out there. Killer Under the Bed does lean on well worn horror tropes of course, but compensates with solid, dark atmosphere and a sincere tone that keeps the horror elements on the serious side of the spectrum. So it might be predictable, but it is well made and keeps you reeled in, so it is a fun watch. I also appreciated the good pace and lack of filler elements, which helps make Killer Under the Bed a lean, focused chiller than genre fans and Lifetime devotees should have fun with.
The tone of this one is dark and serious, so the cast runs with that and turns in solid, sincere performances. I half expected this to be over the top melodrama blended with the horror vibes, but the cast steers clear of the dialed up personas and keep the characters grounded. The star power here is provided by Kristy Swanson, who has done some work in the genre before and is likely to lure in some viewers, though her role is a small one here. She plays a concerned mother, a Lifetime staple and does well, given the screen time she has. Brec Bassinger has the lead role and balances the teen drama with horror to effective ends, in a better than expected performance. She is able to convey the stresses of grief, amplified by the supernatural events that unfold, so Bassinger shows a lot of potential here. I also had fun with Ashlee Fuss as the total bitch that tries to make life hell for her enemies, perhaps a cliched role, but one that Fuss embraces and brings a lot of entertainment to the table with. The cast also includes Madison Lawlor, Chris Prascus, and Kristin Carey.