Written by: Daniel Hadley
Director: Adam Mason
Cast: Andrew Howard, Pollyana Rose, Olivia Hill
As this movie grew more and more absurd I felt abruptly taken aback as the main character’s narration asked the question “why are you watching this poorly acted, badly written bullshit?” At which point the entire movie turned on its head and I was treated to one of the most startling shifts of the genre I had ever witnessed. I remember a smile broke out on my face and I slumped back in my seat before nodding in admiration at the TV screen, which in reflection was entirely pointless but I deemed it necessary none the less.
Before I get ahead of myself its only prudent that I fill you in on the plot. Nick West and his girlfriend break into an old mental hospital with a bunch of acid to have some fun. Now to me the combination of a scary building and hallucinatory narcotics seems like a dumb idea (Editor’s note: that actually sounds like a blast, but I’m a little off… so don’t take my word for it), but then I don’t live inside of a horror movie so I’m not urged to throw rational thought in the garbage. So Nick and his girlfriend drop some acid and wander through the halls until they happen on a freaky looking chair. After goading her to try it out, Nick watches helplessly as she is promptly sucked into a Hell dimension. Cut to a few years later and Nick is being held in a mental institution for the murder of his girlfriend. The resident maniacal professor (who clearly has ulterior motives) gathers a small team to take Nick back to the old mental institution to face his fears. All of this is accompanied by Nick’s narration, which is pretty amusing as his thoughts tend to be pretty blunt.
Now if that plot sounded a little dumb then that’s good. It was supposed to. The thing about this movie is that all of it is being told through Nick’s narration and as we come to learn, he isn’t the most reliable of narrators. In fact I would dare to say he’s full of shit. As I mentioned, the ending takes such a sharp turn that it left me a little stunned, as it morphs from a goofy monster movie into something much darker and more real. All the while Nick is mocking the audience for even indulging in the nonsense that came before it; the problem with talking about this movie is I can’t really talk about it. A bit of an oxymoron, I know, but if I were to ruin it that would take away the whole point of the film and I’ve already said too much. Way too much. Though if I were to just drop the basic synopsis then The Devil’s Chair would sound just like your average horror movie, and believe me it’s not.
After making this movie, Adam Mason and his writing partner Simon Boyes went on to make Blood River, one of my favourite movies, which was in fact my first review for this site. And other than being riddled with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors it was a gushing testament as how what could have been a simple story was twisted into something great. The same can be said here. The Devil’s Chair takes the well-worn plot of a man returning to a place of tragedy to face his demons and gives us something truly unique.
If it wasn’t already clear, I fucking love this movie. And my love and admiration isn’t dished out willy nilly, so when I say I fucking love this movie, I hope you know that I mean it. if only one person decides to check this movie out after reading this, then the Cheshire Cat would be envious of the smile that would spread across my face.
So I urge you to give this one a shot. It’s nearly ten years old at this point and hasn’t nearly received the praise or audience it deserves. It’s not too hard to track down and it will be well worth your time.