As a fan of New Zealand based horror-comedies Dead Alive and Deathgasm (to name a few), I couldn’t help but get excited for High Octane Pictures (Gremlin, 2017) and Director Bernie Rao’s feature film debut Killer Sofa. The trailer along offered a premise so bonkers I couldn’t resist, with quick glimpses of the killer chair disposing of bodies and creepily staring out of windows. Killer Sofa looked to have all the necessary ingredients to become a modern cult classic.
From the beginning, Killer Sofa feels like a movie displaced in time. From the premise to the visuals, Bernie Rao’s film would have fit in perfectly with the straight to video craze of the late ’80s. Had this film been released during that time period, Killer Sofa might rank among the genres best forgotten inanimate object cult classics like The Lift (1983), The Refrigerator (1991), and Tobe Hooper’s The Mangler (1995).
“[Killer Sofa] would have fit in perfectly with the straight to video craze of the late ’80s.”
Killer Sofa tells the seemly simple story of “A killer reclining chair becoming enchanted by a girl and starts committing crimes of passion.” The film opens with a Saw like torture sequence, focusing on a killer sawing off the leg of a tied up victim. From there, we get a brief sequence showing the menacing chair cutting the fingers of a poor girl tasked with helping deliver the item.
After the initial setup, we finally meet Francesca (Piimio Mei), a woman who men (and women) for reasons explained later in the film become obsessed with. So obsessed, in fact, that many of them turn violent for her affection. One of these violent suitors is Frederico (Harley Neville), the man shown violently murdered in the opening scene. The discovery of the brutal murder leads two detectives to Francesca, who the after answering the detective’s questions, rushes off to receive the delivery of her comfy new recliner. This scene also officially introduces Maxi (the scene-stealing Nathalie Morris), Francesca’s best friend. Her wit and commentary help make her the stand-out performance in the film, with her absence for a long stretch later dragging the film down, unfortunately.
Soon after, the police visit and before Francesca arrives home to her new (oddly cute button-faced) recliner we see a brief scene of the recliner being delivered to the wrong address. Here we meet Rabbi Jack (Jim Baltaxe), who after making contact with the chair, has a medieval flashback. Jack comes from a family that has a gift allowing them to sense or see supernatural phenomenon (this is never made clear) and contact with the chair actives Jack’s dormant gift. Soon after the delivery of the chair, Francesca begins having strange dreams, along with an uneasy feeling that someone may be watching her. Before long, the chair starts offing the competition for Francesca’s affection, and what follows is a string of strange murders, from a chair that defies logic as quickly as it maneuvers through Francesca’s apartment.
Eventually, we are let in on the secret that a Dybbuk has inhabited the chair, and this Dybbuk conveniently ties into Rabbi Jacks’s earlier vision. I won’t spoil the rest; however, for a film with a simple premise, Killer Sofa muddies the waters rather quickly. It relies on convenience instead of logic to tie together its many story threads. The ending is intriguing and did have me curious about where a potential sequel might take the concept.
“I kept waiting for Killer Sofa to fully embrace the absurdity of its bonkers premise, but sadly that moment never comes.”
I kept waiting for Killer Sofa to fully embrace the absurdity of its bonkers premise, but sadly that moment never comes. The characters react to the chair as if it’s a perfectly reasonable thing, and the kills (few and far between) are SyFy channel appropriate. Thinking about it now, Killer Sofa would have made a perfect SyFy channel Saturday movie with #KillerSofa as a killer live-tweet along.
Killer Sofa might not have delivered what I was expecting from the film, but I commend High Octane Pictures and Bernie Rao for taking this insane idea and making a film that, even with all its flaws, is still enjoyable. Will you be watching Killer Sofa? What’s you favorite killer inanimate objects movie? Share your thoughts by heading over to Twitter, Reddit, or in the Horror Movie Fiend Club on Facebook!