The Devil’s Chair (2006)

Directed By: Adam Mason
Written By: Adam Mason
  Simon Boyes
Starring: Andrew Howard
  David Gant
  Eliza du Toit
  Matt Berry
The Devil’s Chair

The Devil’s Chair is appallingly acted, directed and scripted, and the semblance of a decent idea is so swamped by ineptitude that it fails to make any impact and only results in a mildly offensive, hugely pointless disappointment of a film that should never be watched by anyone. Do not waste your time even reading this review.

Our constant narrator Nick West (Andrew Howard) is as charismatic as a bored fish, and basically a dick. The initial dull diatribe shows the deaths of all the main characters we’re yet to encounter, then also shows the death of his – to use a colloquial phrase – skank tramp f*ck-buddy. It’s like an A-Team preview but without any thrills, sense or excitement.

Once this diabolical introductory narration is over, we’re treated to the prologue, featuring our narrator and his friend / sex-partner Sammy. They break into a derelict mental asylum, take acid, find an evil-looking chair and Sammy gets horribly attacked by it. Nick is locked up in a modern mental asylum, deemed criminally insane.

Four years pass and Nick West is released into the care of kindly Dr. Willard (David Gant), who wants to use Nick to write a book on mental health. Dr Willard takes Nick, a couple of students and a cameraman back to Blackwood Mental Institute, the site of Sammy’s disappearance / murder… for reasons perhaps more sinister than good. Naturally the chair is still there, and naturally someone else sits in it, and naturally everything quickly turns sour…

The chair turns out to be a portal to a world occupied by a blood-hungry demon, and when two people are sucked into the realm, our “hero” Nick follows them, hoping he can avenge the death of Sammy. Is this other world all that it seems? Is it actually inside Nick’s mind? Is it a poorly disguised metaphor? Do we care?

The Devil’s Chair features an intrusive music score, slap-dash direction and an epically bad script that makes this feature an effort to trawl through. Occasionally the dialogue is embarrassingly, laughably poor, especially Nick West’s dull-voiced narration. Lines like “Can they not hear themselves? There were now conversations floating through the air like faeces smeared across a crusty sky” both infuriate and baffle, coming from a man who hates exactly the same kind of sentence he himself is speaking.

Our protagonist is an aggressive, rude, childish, drug-addled dullard who has as likeable a personality as a pedophilic Nazi death-camp supervisor. He narrates over all other characters conversations too, stopping the audience from forming their own opinion and leaving instead a taste of bitterness, hatred, bigotry and ignorance… smeared across a crusty sky.

There is the exceptionally rare decent moment in The Devil’s Chair, but they are limited and often end disappointingly. Our first glimpse of the “other realm” has a sort of Silent Hill otherwordly feel to it, but this quickly slips into an accidentally hilarious moment when the main demon foe steps into view… and reveals himself to be a ten foot skull in a binbag.

The “finale” is apparently the pay-off for sitting through all the self-proclaimed bad acting and script-work that preceded it, but it is not as smart as it hopes to be. Writer / Director Adam Mason attempts to inject some subversive, post-modern irony into the film, but it falls incredibly flat and is instead just offensive to everyone’s intelligence.

There is a lot more to be said about The Devil’s Chair, but none of it good. It fails fundamentally on so many levels it is just not worth mentioning them.

The Devil’s Chair is frustratingly bad. It is an appallingly constructed film dumped on top of a mediocre idea that ends up simply being insultingly crass. The Devil’s Chair is woefully pointless at best.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

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