Director: Adam Mason
Starring: Andrew Howard, Pollyanna Rose, Olivia Hill .UK. 1h 31m
For a movie that actually is fairly interesting for what it is, a laddish take on a supernatural psychological thriller, but if it could only drop the attitude for a minute… sheesh. It feels as if Mason wanted to make a new football ‘hooligan’ movie and a gory horror then decided to clash the two together but dropping unlikely characters into a Saw trap with a strange entity watching the games being played is a bitter tasting bag of all sorts. Merit has to be given for his ability to blend the it all together successfully, but why would anyone want to do this? I have the feeling I’m not the target audience, but I dug in and was surprised in many ways but not thrilled with the overall results.
Nick (Howard) decides to take his darling girlfriend Sammy out for a good time, with a pocket full of pills, they investigate a local abandoned asylum and find a strange chair, a cross between an electric chair and some torturous medical device, seeing everything as a happy opportunity, they use this as part of their mind melding fetish date until Sammy is slaughtered by unseen forces and Nick is left as the prime suspect.
After years of being incarcerated he’s released into the hands of a team who are investigating the asylum. The team are a mixed bunch to say the least. Supposedly professionals, all they manage to really do is flirt with each other. Headed by Dr Willard (Gant) who’s a pleasure to see but he only plays one character, he’s always a esteemed learned character with peculiar quirks, he struggles to keep Nick and the collection of skeptics and bimbos under control.
Nick, with all of his first hand wisdom is the stand out, character he’s been in this asylum before and knows the chairs potential. His character is shadowy and constantly dismal and standoffish but there’s something not right about him or his return to this site of his bloody crime. Nick’s ability to break the fourth wall is one thing but the suggestions he makes are laughable, if lines like ” is this what you wanted to see?” were delivered with a sly laugh we’d have a poor cousin to Man Bites Dog. Before the team can being to perform their esoteric studies, they all manage to not-do what they came for, and end up taking a trip in the chair finding a strange alternative world where they are stalked by a grim entity.
Once the group have found this “otherworldly” space there’s a clever shift in tone and texture of the movie, like the “bad” areas of Silent Hill (2006), this world mimics the asylum but it’s filled with death, maggots drip from the phones and there’s an overall strange darkness about it, similar to the seaside horror The Dark (2005) there’s a twisted reason to all of this universe. It’s clear that you’re in another realm and there’s a bit of cinematography magic at hand here, and it’s a pleasant surprise in the application. It does add a depth of character and mystery which is usually alien to this caliber of movie and the entity, a mix of the Grim Reaper and a Kelpie is manifested in with some excellence.
However with all of the magical effects, it’s just so hard (for me) to look past the characters whose lack of depth and weak construction just trashes the movie. It seems the attempt to make everyday people end up as a team of people no one wants to be around, especially Brett (Barry) is a jokey prat, who believes all women are gagging for it and loves a bit of banter, which is okay but he just doesn’t come across as a professional in any way.
The what, where, why is all left to the imagination, even after the plot twists the movie into something new, it’s a breath of fresh air to something that becomes stale all too soon but the twist is presented in such a piss poor manner it loses its intended luster. Devil’s chair is a brave attempt at a vibrant credible gory thriller but the characters totally let the movie down.
Related: Shocker (1989), Constantine (2005), Silent Hill (2006),
Lists: Chairs in Horror
Spotlight: The Devil Vol 1