Reviewed by Johnny Butane
Starring Andrew Howard, Nadja Brand, David Grant, Polly Brown
Directed by Adam Mason (interview)
Adam Mason’s first film, Broken (review) was a study on the inner workings of the mind during a very extreme fight for survival. It was relatively slow-paced for the most part, but never got boring and showed a direct with real potential.
So when I heard about The Devil’s Chair, which promised a lot more blood and some nasty looking monsters, I was intrigued. Finally, over a year after it’s completion, I got to see it and damnit, I was right to be intrigued. Ha ha! The Devil’s Chair is a gory, violent mindfuck of a movie and has firmly cemented Mason as a talented and versatile director who’s not churning out the same old shit over and over again.
The story begins with Nick West (Howard) delivering a voice over telling us that he’ll be relaying a story to us about what really happened to him at the abandoned asylum that day. We then see him frolicking with his beautiful young girlfriend, entering said asylum in the hopes of having some creepy fun. They both drop some acid and begin to explore, which leads them to the discovery of the Devil’s Chair.
By all appearances it’s a normal restraint chair, but as soon as it tastes a bit of blood, the chair comes to life. It straps in its victim, plunging large metal rods through their wrists, feet and neck, and then… well what happens next is what the movie is really all about, so I won’t give anything away.
For years after the incident, Nick has been confined to a mental institution, as no one would believe his story that the chair is what led to his girlfriend’s death. Dr. Willard (Grant) believes that the only way to help Mr. West come to grips with the offense is to relive exactly what happened at the scene of the crime. So, accompanied by some of his students, they them return to the abandoned asylum to see if they can piece together the events.
Needless to say, things don’t end well. Dr. Willard actually believes Nick’s story, we eventually discover, knowing the history of the asylum involves a man who was trying to figure out a way to bring people over to another dimension, which they soon find the chair is more than accomplished at. Awaiting them in this new dimension is a monstrous cloaked demon, attracted to the scent of blood and hell-bent on tearing anything it gets it’s spindly fingers on to pieces.
But what’s really going on the entire time? That, fiends, is the trick of The Devil’s Chair. All is not what it seems at first glance. No one is really there to do what he or she says they’re there to do and the chances of West finding any form of redemption within this insane asylum are slim.
Masons’s directorial skills are unquestionable in The Devil’s Chair. Every performance save one, Dr. Willard’s, is riveting and even for that an exception can be made since he’s being purposefully over the top, we later discover. Howard, especially, does a fantastic job as the anti-hero, tortured by the memories of what happened in the hospital and just looking for a way to get through another night there, whatever it takes.
The location is brilliant, as well; it was the primary reason Mason was able to get this film done so soon after Broken, because it became available and they wisely moved on it. It has the look of someplace that’s been untouched for years, even though the abundance of dead leaves everywhere is a bit over the top. It’s truly a terrifying looking place; so vivid you can almost smell it, which helps to suck the viewer in ever further.
In the end, The Devil’s Chair is a smart movie, plain and simple. It never shows you its cards until its ready to, even when the action is ratcheted up to an absurd level. The voiceover from West helps at times, too, throwing a knowing wink to the audience when necessary, just so you understand that it’s never taking itself too seriously.
I’m glad I waited for The Devil’s Chair, though I do wish I could’ve seen it on the big screen first. Dimension Extreme is eyeing it for DVD release (their debut DVD title was Mason’s debut, Broken) so we can hope for some official news soon. You can visit The Devil’s Chair official site for more, and be sure to give the trailer a looksee below!
4 out of 5
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