Sunday, October 13, 2019

Vamp or Not? Killer Sofa

First thing to say about this 2019 New Zealand film that was directed by Bernie Rao is around the title and poster. The title is inaccurate as we are looing at a recliner not a sofa and the poster adds a maw of teeth that are not there in the film. The second thing to say is that I don’t do it on purpose… I watched the film as some horror fluff not expecting that we’d look at this as a ‘Vamp or Not?’ Indeed, not suspecting that we’d get a myth type that we know of old.

The film starts with a moment of mutilation as Frederico (Harley Neville) is tied to a table and gagged, whilst a man (Sean Fleming) takes an electric carving knife to his legs. After this a group of young people in the shifting business come to the garage. There is a strange smell and the recliner is there, chained to the wall, a note suggests it needs to be delivered to a Francesca (Piimio Mei)…

Piimio Mei as Francesca
A band plays (over the credits) with Francesca adding interpretive dance. At the end of the song a pair of cops, Inspectors Gravy (Jed Brophy) and Grape (Stacey King) come in to talk to Francesca about Frederico. She speaks with them along with friend Maxi (Nathalie Morris). A severed foot has been found and identified as Frederico’s and Francesca was known as his acquaintance. She explains that he became obsessed with her and she took out a restraining order. Indeed, she has taken many out over the years, guys just seem to become obsessive about her. The interview ends as she is expecting delivery of furniture.

Jim Baltaxe as Jack
As the delivery guys take the recliner out of the chains one cuts their hand – it is a horror staple (especially in vampire films) and the scene seems to be there for the reason of being a staple and not for any plot reason. One of the delivery guys takes it for delivery but ends up at an antique store run by Maxi’s grandfather Jack (Jim Baltaxe). He doesn’t know who Francesca might be (later in the film he refers to her by the wrong name) but touches the recliner and has a vision. He later tells friend and occultist Ashanti (Angelica Thomas) that it is a dybbuk.

the recliner
We have come across the Jewish spirit/demon before and on both occasions (the Dybbuk and Demon) the being portrayed was not a vampire or vampiric. I have also watched a couple of films around the artefact the dybbuk box, none of which even flickered on the vampire radar. The primary connection between the genre and the dybbuk is it being in Bane’s Encyclopedia of Vampire Mythology, possibly erroneously. Of course, this time around there must be some level of vampiric connection for me to consider another ‘Vamp or Not?’ article.

drawing the soul
Through the story we get dybbuk lore from a viewed website run by Tohunga Makutu (Grant Kereama) – from this we learn that they are powerful spirits that feed on the living, that touching a dybbuk makes a connection between the person and the spirit and that they can also possess corpses when not possessing a living person. It is this feeding on the living that is important from our point of view as they literally eat the soul and we get to see this as an impressive lightshow.

Sarah Munn as Valerie
Through Jack we discover that his vision was of Valerie (Sarah Munn), one of a pair of occultists who ate souls – poisoning their victims to release the soul. Discovered, he was burned alive, but she was chased and killed herself in front of an ancestor (Trae Te Wiki) of Francesca. This ancestor then found men fighting over her, becoming obsessed with her, and claimed it was due to the spirit of Valerie, which had entered into her body. This is one of the dybbuk and has passed along the family. The other is her lover and is attached to the recliner and it was their living vampirism that has caused them to become vampiric spirits in death.

residual ghost
So, we have soul eating and possession, essentially, and it is the soul eating that allows me to confidently suggest that Killer Sofa is a vampire film (of the energy vampire type). The film itself is amusing to watch but don’t expect a terrifying atmosphere – this is aimed at fun and the sofa, by its very nature and design, struggles to raise a scare. The film, rather, carries a particularly antipodean humour but is not an out and out comedy, lacks the bite of something like Braindead and is light on gore.

The imdb page is here.

On DVD @ Amazon US

No comments: