Hoodoo and lazy-boy chairs, this is a combination everyone has been clamoring for. A little spiritual possession in an aging recliner can really liven up the drawing room. Or it may just take your life.
‘Killer Sofa’ isn’t so much about a sofa, but a possessed recliner. That should clear up some confusion going forward, maybe.
The movie kicks off with a bunch of blood splatter as a helpless gentleman is dismembered during a hoodoo ceremony. An eerily anthropomorphic reclining chair looks on during the events. The story moves forward some unknown time in the future. A group of movers show up to the now cleaned ceremony site and remove the lumpy brown recliner. It sports two suspicious button eyes and quickly claims its first blood.
The evil piece of furniture is temporarily given to the custody of a store owner named Rabbi Jack. Upon touching the upholstery of the film’s title villain, Jack receives a vision of the past. He witnesses a woman from a previous century running away from someone and eventually taking her own life. The whole event leaves Jack in critical condition and he starts to piece together the puzzle, although the chair is now in the possession of his grandaughter’s friend Francesca.
The recliner is a gift to Franchesca, but it isn’t immediately clear who the sender really is. She is drawn to it somehow, experiencing a thankfully sexless intimate movement with the seat. The two are somehow connected, but how? It does not take long for the recliner to start murdering people, starting with Francesca’s boyfriend. Anyone who it deems as a threat or obstacle that could divert Francesca’s attention is fair game.
‘Killer Sofa’ had the potential to be an entertaining dark comedy. It hits some standard horror beats but keeps the gore rather lite. Blood is thrown around here and there, but the recliner never goes for any truly gruesome kills. Those who were expecting the high strangeness of ‘Death Bed’ will have to look elsewhere. This isn’t to say the film does not have its merits, though.
Unlike the typical horror film staples, the authorities investigating the disappearances and murders aren’t outwardly skeptical when the plot alludes to something paranormal being afoot. No one is thrown in a cell or carted off to a mental ward. Hoodoo is also something horror films don’t often include, instead opting for pedestrian ghosts. The characters themselves are a bit diverse, and some of quite memorable. Yet, some of their reactions to the truly strange happenings seem a bit sedated.
Piimio Mei’s Francesca spends a lot of the movie subdued. She has a history of seeing weird visions and has the uncanny passive ability to make men instantly infatuated with her. This abundance of attention doesn’t seem to affect her ego. In fact, Francesca feels more like furniture than the film’s title character. For the majority of the movie, she is quite passive. Too passive in some instances. This may be explained away with the prescription drugs she takes regularly during the runtime. By the end, however, she really shines as both a scream queen and as something far more sinister.
Nathalie Morris plays Maxi, Francesca’s best friend who sadly ends up missing out on a large chunk of the movie. It isn’t quite clear where their relationship ultimately stands. Some scenes where the pair of them interact with the police almost hint at a more domestic partnership, but it isn’t fleshed out. Maxi truly cares for Francesca, and the two could have made for an interesting Scooby-Doo sleuth team if the script had led them in that direction. Sadly, Maxi’s grandfather Rabbi Jack is given a lot of screen time.
Rabbi Jack is the lead investigative force that is trying to decipher exactly what is going on with the paranormal aspect of the story. The crime here is that Jack isn’t that interesting. Jim Baltaxe does what he can with the script. It is hinted at that he is trying to prove his worth to his father by extinguishing the evil in the story. Like many other threads found in the film, this one goes nowhere.
Jed Brophy is a standout as Inspector Bob Gravy. He may be playing a bit of a trope as the overworked detective with marital problems, but Brophy’s bit more straightforward rather than noirish. He’s relatable and watching him slowly and ever so slightly morph as he succumbs to Francesca’s otherworldly allure is intriguing. There is a payoff for this plot thread, but that would lead into spoiler territory. It is hinted that his partner Inspector Rosane Grape, played by Stacey King, has romantic feelings for Gravey. This, however, is not explored beyond a couple of lines of dialog.
The real problem with ‘Killer Sofa’ doesn’t come from low budget limitations but from bloat. The overall story is not too convoluted, but the discovery of the possession and the nature behind it could have been compacted. Rather than letting Rabbi Jack chase down the info, that plotline could have been handled by either Francesca, or Maxi, or both. Allowing these two friends to uncover the nature of the evil furniture on their own would have allowed time for us to get to know the substance of their friendship.
‘Killer Sofa’ mixes dark comedy with straight horror, but sometimes during peak moments, the combo doesn’t work. The recliner itself as a monster is entertaining, being both adorable and menacing at the same time thanks to those button eyes. Scenes, where the lumpy being disposes of bodies or stairs ominously out a window, are the high points. The story of possession and murderous spirits feels a bit overstuffed.
For a quick bit of wacky horror with a twist ending, ‘Killer Sofa’ delivers on that end. Had the story and some key characters gotten a bit of tidying up in the script process, this could have been much more fun.
‘Killer Sofa’ will be available on DVD and On-Demand in October.