I don’t know if director Bernie Rao thought the word ‘sofa’ sounded more menacing or the practical effects for a larger piece of furniture proved too difficult, but this movie is actually about a killer recliner. So, try to suspend any notions of disbelief and set aside any pedantic ideas about furniture. Whenever I find a horror movie from New Zealand, I know I can expect more laughs than scares. Does New Zealand make scary movies or only horror-comedies...
...Seriously, I want to know.
This film opens on a torture/sacrifice scene where Frederico (Harley Neville) experiences the business end of a Sawzall, while a framed picture of a woman and a button-eyed recliner look on. Right after this scene, we see Francesca (Piimio Mei) and her best friend Maxi (Nathalie Morris) later meet with the police to discuss the disappearance of the aforementioned torture-victim. The pair tell Inspector Gravy, played by Jed Brophy (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, District 9, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers) and Inspector Grape (Stacy King) that Frederico was a creep and a bit of a stalker (pretty common occurrence for Francesca). The two women would like to share more info, but they have to leave to move some furniture.
The movie then jumps from scene to scene as some semblance of exposition begins to unravel. In the first ten minutes, we learn the recliner likes to bite and the grandpa, Rabbi Jack (Jim Baltaxe), experiences weird visions when he touches the titular piece of furniture. If you don’t think that’s enough story for you, just wait for the next ten minutes. Rabbi Jack possess the gift of ‘sight’, Maxi’s family business is going under, and Francesca begins to feel an uncomfortable presence in her house.
As Francesca enjoys a quiet evening at home with her new comfy chair, I can’t help but wonder, how does she not realize it has eyes?
The film earns back some points for creativity, not only with the inclusion of a homicidal chair, but also with the inclusion of Jewish supernatural myths and not the more common demons and possession stories of Christian culture. The death and carnage unleashed by the chair stems from a Dybbuk, which is an evil spirit which attaches itself to a living person. The sofa (or recliner?) beings to demonstrate sexual feelings for Francesca and Rabbi Jacks uses his newfound powers (and the internet) to learn about the origin of this Dybbuk and how to destroy it.
All this story and still a whole lot left unexplained. More and more men come sniffing around the Killer Sofa’s one true love, so the anthropomorphic furniture’s creepy looking suck puppet face becomes more and more expressive. The throw-away sub-plots keep piling up and the chair’s obsession with Francesca increases.
The body count stays low and the gore keeps to a minimum, but what I find this movie really lacks is an actual killer sofa. Aside from the misleading title, the furniture becomes more of a McGuffin, than the focal point of the plot. Some of the promotional images depict a savage looking chair with a mouth-full of teeth, but no such imagery ever appears within the film. Obviously when a piece of furniture serves as the main adversary, the death scenes lean more towards comical than anything. Keeping in mind you are watching a horror-comedy and not an actual film intended to terrify, you will find some amusement as the chair stares threateningly out the window or thwarts any attempts made to destroy it.
The film has promise of being a weird horror comedy you watch and enjoy because of the silliness and originality (the film Rubber comes to mind), but the plot of Killer Sofa gets in the way of letting the chair do anything more than chew the scenery. However, this film fits well into the B-movie category, so it will find an audience who can appreciate the non-animate object slasher genre.
Killer Sofa reclines onto VOD October 1rst from High Octane Pictures.
By Amylou Ahava