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Reviewed by: JimmyO

Directed by: Adam Mason

Andrew Howard
Elize Duu Toit
Matt Berry

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What's it about
When a bloke and his girl decide to drop acid in an old abandoned mental facility, bad shite happens. The girl disappears, leaving her boyfriend covered in her blood, screaming about a deadly chair. Thankfully, some doctor has the bright idea to bring the possible lunatic back to the scene of the crime for research... which ends up being a kinda bad idea.
Is it good movie?
The Devil’s Chair sounded about as generic as you could imagine, even if it is British. A man suspected of killing his girlfriend goes back to where the incident took place with a bunch of psychologists. Once there, they find that things may not be so great in regards to their research. Unless of course you are looking to research how many different ways blood and guts can spatter. As I said, it sounded generic but luckily, director Adam Mason was very aware of that. He turned this tale of murder into a unique bit of genre bending madness, it sort of felt as if Guy Ritchie directed his first horror movie. And I do mean that as a complement. The use of lead actor Andrew Howard doing voiceover is incredibly effective as is the constant use of freeze frame. Talk about getting into the mind of a possible psycho killer. There are very good elements here which felt reminiscent of American Psycho.

The opening sequence involves Nick West (Howard) and his girl of the hour Sammy (Pollyanna Rose). The two descend on an abandoned mental hospital (is there any other kind in these movies?) and find things go from bad to worse after dropping acid. Sammy finds a mysterious chair, and lets just say it messes her up, and she disappears. Nick is blamed for her vanishing act, which leaves a whole lot of blood behind, but he remembers none of it. Lucky for Nick, there is a doctor who believes that maybe Mr. West is not as guilty as everyone thought. And since the whole incident happened four years ago, the good doctor is able to convince those in charge to allow Nick to be released into his custody. Now, I don’t know about you, but bringing a man to the scene of a vicious crime which he probably committed might not be a good one. And sadly, they soon learn it was a really, really bad idea. I’m talking one pissed off piece of furniture and some beastie with tentacles which seems to have a thirst for blood. See, even a bit of Hellraiser to offer the genre loving crowd.

I’m very thankful that Mr. Mason and his co-writer Simon Boyes had the sense to shake things up a bit. As stylish and well acted as this film is, it is fairly predictable. I was actually hoping for the film to surprise me more than it did. It seems that they originally shot the film in a much more straight forward manner. Considering that the movie really feels alive thanks to the talented Andrew Howard’s approach to his role, especially in the creepy inner dialogue, I think they made the right decision by stirring things up. Some of what his character claims is downright chilling. Sure you could compare it visually to Trainspotting or as I mentioned, a Guy Ritchie film, but it really makes the movie that much more interesting. So here we are with what could have been a very bland horror flick, but thankfully the filmmakers realized what they could do by taking a less obvious approach. And that is what makes The Devil’s Chair worth taking a seat for.
Video / Audio
Video: This 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen transfer is good enough. It sometimes feels a little too dark.

Audio: I liked the 5.1 Dolby Digital. It sounded clear and sound played an important role in the film.
The Extras
As for special features, I loved the Commentary with writer/director Adam Mason and his co-writer Simon Boyes. They are incredibly honest as they discuss the challenges with this film, including re-shoots to make it a stronger feature. I think they made the right decisions.

With Blood, Sweat and Fears: The Making of the Devil’s Chair (57:45), they show the beginning stages of the film. This all leads up to the re-shoots including re-casting one of the roles due to lack of “chemistry” between the actors. This two part documentary (Part One: Something for Nothing and Part Two: Going for the Kill) is a fascinating watch. I really liked the changes they made by turning this into a sort of hybrid of genre films, I can only imagine what the original cut was like. I like these guys and their constant use of the word “F*ck!”. I can’t wait to see what they do next.

How about a bunch of Trailers to finish things off. They include, an ad for Blu-Ray discs, “Anaconda 3: Offspring”, “The Lazarus Project”, “Zombie Strippers”, “Tortured”, “Resident Evil: Degeneration”, “Insanitarium”, “Impact Point”, “The Tatooist”, “Cleaner”, “The Cottage”, “The Shield”, “Linewatch”, “Buried Alive” and fearnet.com. Enjoy!
Last Call
I have to say that I was impressed with The Devil’s Chair. While I found the actual story very predictable, I also feel that Adam Mason has a keen sense on how to make a film work. But a lot of credit should also go to Andrew Howard as the Englishman psychopath who would’ve felt right at home in a British gangster flick. The rest of the performances are fine, but it is Howard that leaves the impression. In the end, The Devil’s Chair is a stylish bit of mindf*ck which is well worth checking out.
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