Firstly, I’d just like to say thank you to the team at High Octane Pictures for sending me an online screener of their new B-movie Horror/Comedy “Killer Sofa”, Written and Directed by Bernie Rao. Killer Sofa is a New Zealand production that follows Francesca (beautiful first-timer Piimio Mei), a young woman with a knack for entrancing men who inevitably become possessive over her. After hearing news of the death of one of her previous jealous and unstable lovers Frederico (Harley Neville), Francesca discovers a hidden past and the fact that she’s the bearer of an evil recliner chair intent on killing all those in her life. The film also stars Nathalie Morris, Jim Baltaxe, Jed Brophy, Stacey King, and Grant Kereama.
Crossing over genre lines into the farfetched inane notion of inanimate objects trying to kill people has long since been a done thing in the B-movie sub-genre. If I recall correctly, 1978’s “Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes!” was one of the earliest to do it and other low-budget examples followed, such as “Death Bed” and cult classic “The Refrigerator”. Since then, we’ve seen films about murderous snowmen, violent backpacks, runaway tires, and even crazed donuts all attempting to kill innocent people. So with that in mind, Rao’s surprisingly dour film about a killer lounge chair shouldn’t really come as any great surprise, at least to those of us well-versed in the world of schlock. Like it or not, Killer Sofa is yet another original concept in a particular niche that’s constantly attempting to up its wacky factor. Bernie has built a resume working in short film but this looks to be his first feature-length film. The film contains solid production value, and at just 80 minutes, the pacing is quite direct. Rao’s framing and camera work are both competent, and the crisp audio track and sound fx work are further upsides. The strong neon lighting of reds and blues creates a good bit of atmosphere (even if it’s purely artificial and somewhat overdone) and a couple of the key performances are serviceable. Francesca’s friendship with Maxi (Morris) appears to be the sole vehicle for any drama – the watchability aided by the two very pretty actresses. Some of the animation with the recliner adds a bit of charm as well.
With this review being based upon a screener, I’m hoping that some work will be carried out on a couple of the technical aspects before the film is officially released. The overall master seems rather low and the edit comes off as clunky through numerous transitions in scenes that don’t feel like they’ve really concluded. Without singling anyone out, some of the secondary performances are also lacking, though the actors aren’t aided by some less than stellar dialogue at times. For some unbeknownst reason, Francesca insists on constantly calling Maxi by her name anytime the two interact with each other. Why? Friends don’t talk to each other like that in real life, so why here? The way in which the two police officers carry themselves is a little odd as well. I’m not sure if it was supposed to be played for laughs or what? There’s a couple of moments involving some practical blood spray but it looks awfully cheap. Not to mention that the film ran well past the forty-minute mark without any kills or on-screen action to speak of. How can a film with this potential for batshit craziness (at least on a surface-level) be so void of fun and entertainment value? Killer Sofa is so dolefully stern and composed and with no obvious rationale as to why. So if you’re like me and you’re just looking for a dose of cheesy madness, you’ll likely be left disappointed. Why not go all out with this idea instead of opting for something that’s tonally murky? I’m not sure how Rao thought that taking a bee-line dramatic approach to a concept so outlandish was the way to go. There’s an origin to proceedings but it feels elicited from somewhere else (not an actual movie just another reality), and I simply didn’t care about the fray between Rabbi Jack (Baltaxe) and his father, which sets in motion the early discovery of visions that support more of the source.
Killer Sofa is a puzzling one. In spite of its reasonable production value, it creates the impression (at least externally) that it brandishes all the elements of a second-rate B-movie that you can have fun with when you want to turn your brain off, but alas. Unfortunately, it’s conservative beyond belief and with the exclusion of some stylish lighting, fine camera work, and a couple of pretty girls, it’s just not the romp most will be wanting and hoping for. If the concept sounds intriguing and you’d rather see something non-sensical but taken more seriously with detail and purpose you might get something from Killer Sofa that I couldn’t. On the other hand, if you’re looking for the more absurd and bloody extravaganza I’d definitely recommend something else. You can check out the trailer below and the film will be available in October.
Killer Sofa – 3.5/10