Bed Rest: A Mother's Grief or a Malevolent Force?
Trigger Warning - suicide mentions, child loss
Bed Rest was released in December 2022 and is currently streaming on Tubi. It was written and directed by Lori Evans Taylor. Lori is best known for Wicked Wicked Games (2006) and Lucky Dog (2013). The film stars Melissa Barrera (Scream V & VI) and Guy Burnet (Ray Donovan, The Affair, and Counterpart). The film revolves around Barrera (Julia) and Burnet (Daniel) who are a married couple getting ready to welcome a child. They are also in the middle of renovating a new house they purchased that has turned into a big project. We soon learn that Julia suffered a stillbirth with their first child Andrew about 4 years ago. After a nasty fall in the new house, Julia is placed on bed rest for the remainder of her pregnancy (8 weeks). This means the house project comes to a halt and she is stuck in bed all day.
Once she is home, we see Daniel put in a lot of effort to make sure she is comfortable and has what she needs. However, Julia soon starts seeing and hearing a young boy in their house. She suspects this is their firstborn Andrew trying to communicate from the other side. She doesn't share this information with her husband at first. She sees weird things on the baby monitor and even thinks someone has broken into their home. Daniel finds out about her seeing the boy from the police officer who came to investigate the break-in. We also learn that after Andrew's stillbirth, Julia had to be admitted to the hospital for postpartum psychosis. She even attempted to take her own life. Daniel hires a Doula named Delmy (played by Edie Inksetter) to come in and help Julia out while he's at work. Delmy discloses she was never able to have children in an effort to build rapport with Julia, but this soon crumbles when Dr. Meadows (played by Erik Athavale) comes to do a house call after Julia experiences some Braxton Hicks contractions. Dr. Meadows talks with Julia about the boy she has been seeing and tells Julia she should start taking her antipsychotics again.
Julia is worried about the baby, but Dr. Meadows says she is so close to birth the medication will have little to no effect on the baby at this point. Julia then uses the baby monitor to overhear Dr. Meadows telling Daniel he may need to consider readmitting Julia if it comes to that. She starts taking her medication and all seems well for about 4 weeks. Then the boy visits her again and warns Julia about some women wanting to take her baby.
The film hints that maybe Delmy wants to steal the baby, or possibly the woman who used to live in the house. Delmy tells Julia that a woman named Melandra Kinsey used to live in the house and took her own life after losing her unborn daughter in a car accident.
Then again, the film makes the audience doubt Julia's account of how the film has played out so far. Is she seeing this boy? Is some outside force a threat to her and her baby?
The first thing I will say about this film is the pacing was phenomenal. For a film that revolves around the main character being stuck in bed, the movie never seems to drag or get boring. Director Lori Evans Taylor did a great job of driving the story forward while also making it feel like Julia was actually in bed for 80% of the film. The costuming and set design also help to tell the story with Julia's different sets of pajamas, the house that looks half complete, and there's the countdown timeline we get throughout the film.
Next, I can't not talk about the relationship dynamic between Julia and Daniel. You can tell they care for each other so much, but each one of them grieves Andrew differently. Even though you feel for Julia throughout the film, I couldn't be mad about how Daniel was acting. He was doing what he thought was best to keep her and the baby safe. He also almost lost Julia and that adds to what drives his character's actions.
This is not a horror film in the jumpy sense, but in the emotional sense. It builds and builds over the 90-minute run time. Additionally, the audience is unsure if they can trust what they see. You do get a few little jumps here and there but mostly it leans toward the thriller genre. There is an uncomfortable air about the film and the mystery keeps the audience on their toes. I was so excited to see how it ended.
Lastly, I need to mention just how great I felt Melissa Barrera did as Julia. There is a scene that made me cry. Julia is in bed and holding a toy car that was supposed to be for Andrew. She clings to this little blue car and cries. Cries for her son and the life she hoped he would have. Cries for the dreams and the parts of her that died with him. It was devastating and the grief Julia was feeling seemed so strong. Barrera has such firm conviction as Julia and doesn’t believe everything is in her head. I wanted to believe her too.
Is Julia still suffering from the grief of her firstborn? Or is someone or something trying to take her child? Check out the film for the full ending.
8.5 Screams out of 10 😱