★★1/2 out of ★★★★★
Every now and again, you run into a title that you just need to check out because it seems so absurd. Remarkably, it’s better than I expected (low threshold there) but it also isn’t as gonzo as I expected it to be. Done with heart on a low budget, it’s entertaining, warts and all.
Something you should know about being a horror movie blogger/podcaster. We receive a LOT of “review my movie” requests. As you know, we try and support all of the little independent labor-of-love films, but there are a whole lot of poorly made amateur-hour productions, doomed to be the back end of any streaming catalog. But every now and again something catches your eye, and you go “WTF?” And, in this case, I latched on to Killer Sofa.
Maybe, just maybe this will reach the absolute peak absurdity of the surreal and surprisingly meta film Rubber which provided a psychokinetic sentient automobile tire as the villain. Killer Sofa is a Kiwi production by High Octane Pictures and is written and directed by Bernie Rao, and this is his first feature film. Remember what I said about labors of love? Well, I think this counts.
The film begins with what appears to be a ritual sacrifice of some sort, and in this ceremony, in addition to a lot of candles and photographs, is a sofa chair. Limbs are lost and blood spatters, and we cut to a young dancer, Francesca (Piimio Mei) who is informed of two things:
- Two cops come to tell her that one of her ex-lovers has been found dismembered, and they want to know who might have it in for him.
- She’s inherited a sofa chair! Congratulations!
So right from the beginning, we understand that these two wildly different situations are not mutually exclusive. The chair has been possessed by the spirit of a Dybbuk, a malevolent spirit, and now it resides in Francesca’s lovely apartment. Francesca has a habit of attracting obsessed stalkers, and her best friend, Maxine keeps her company with the new comfy (and evil) chair, as they process the day’s events.
Maxine’s Grandfather is an antique dealer who just so happened to see the sofa chair being carted away, and found himself lured to the dastardly comfy chair. When he touched the sofa, it sparked visions in him, expressing that there was a lovers quarrel in ye olden times (Appears to be in the early 1800’s) wherein a woman had her throat cut. He also happens to be… a rabbi! Yep. A rabbi antiquarian. In a more literate movie, this would be considered Lovecraftian. And apparently he has “the gift” of visions. But the vision was hazy and confusing to him, as it is to the viewing audience. But, he figures out that indeed, this is the work of a Dybbuk, and he will need to find and deal with this creature.
Meanwhile, Francesca has taken a liking to the chair, doing some sexy relaxing and fondling the cushions. Ooooo, so dirty! The chair seems to like her too, and that’s when things get fun. And no, it doesn’t go down some horrible overly-sexual route. The chair has become enchanted with Francesca and sets out to remove all the men in her life, starting with her roommate, TJ, who Maxine suspects is gay because he is definitely not into her. The chair also deals with another one of Francesca’s stalkers who sneaks into the house to do some panty sniffing. Ew!
Now, recognize that the chair is about as scary as a stuffed animal. That image on the movie poster? Yeah, you NEVER see any sharp teeth. The chair is rather adorable, and I got a good chuckle every time the chair would be seen actively moving around the apartment. The chair reminds me of an Ugly Doll or a strange pokemon.
Eventually, the cops get more information about the ritual sacrifice, and that one of her stalkers has planted a surveillance camera which shows the sofa moving about the house. So, Officer Grape (Stacey King) and Officer Gravy (Jed Brophy) head out to Francesca’s Apartment. Rabbi Jack got confirmation from Maxine that her best friend just might have a demon sofa on her hands. And, as everyone descends upon the apartment, we find out why men have such an obsession about Francesca, as it turns out she is the descendant of the killer who is now possessing the sofa chair!
It all makes sense! Or. Well. It kind of does. Barely.
Killer Sofa suffers from what lots of micro-budget first-time outings do. The sound mix is muddy and drops out periodically. And, I hate to say it, but the New Zealand accent when spoken really quickly made me want to watch the movie with subtitles. The acting is fair-to-middling at best. There are many awkward pauses in the dialogue, and I suspected the actors on occasion looking for cue cards. Francesca as your main protagonist also is not a particularly likable character, and that puts a cap as to how high a movie like this can succeed.
And, as you might expect with a movie about a murderous killer comfy chair, you could drive a truck through the plot holes in this movie.
All that being said, this movie and Bernie Rao show a streak of real imagination here. All the scenes with the animated chair are so much fun. The effects are excellent for what they need to be, and the film looks like it cost more than it probably did. It has a nice clean look about it. There are a couple of really nice gore gags, and despite the multitude of flaws, it was eminently watchable. Also, it doesn’t become a head-scratching art-piece like Rubber, which though also clever really felt like it was preaching to you rather than trying to entertain you.
I particularly enjoyed a sequence where, when Francesca is trying to burn the chair, it keeps blowing out the matches. So simple, and so amusing! In its own sloppy, hot mess of a way, this is an endearing film. It’s not a good FILM, but it is a decent piece of entertainment.
Killer Sofa goes streaming on October 1, and it is not rated, though if I were to guess, it probably could sneak in as PG-13. Though it has moments that are made to scare, it probably ends up as about a 10 out of 29 on the Bridge Too Far meter. If you see this, you might want to do a double feature with the 1945 Lon Chaney classic Pillow of Death.