Movie review: Devil’s Chair (2007)
- Andrew Howard as Nick West
- Pollyanna Rose as Sammy
- David Gant as Doctor Willard
- Louise Griffiths as Melissa
- Elize du Toit as Rachel Fowles
- Matt Berry as Brett Wilson
Some films are so bad they’re good (or good enough). This distinctly odd low-budget feature is one of those. Starring Izzy from Hollyoaks (Elise du Toit), the money-lending bad guy from Limitless (Andrew Howard) and the now very established Matt Berry, I’d been aware of this film for a long time and always intended to see it. Back in 2006, I’d been intrigued by the original trailer that promised a nightmare inducing monster and plenty of gore. Now that I’ve finally caught it for 99p, over ten years since its release, I’m caught between acknowledging it’s kind of awful, but impressed that it mostly delivered on what I was hoping for.
It centres around an unwise investigation into an insane asylum. A bunch of academics and a survivor investigate the ‘devil’s chair’ which apparently caused a big mess several years ago. The characters bicker constantly – it’s always a fine line between that attitude being fun, and making me hate the characters. In this case it leans towards the latter. Particularly annoying is Matt Berry’s ‘Brett’ character (named for Alien’s Brett perhaps) who takes ‘entitled rich arsehole’ to new levels. Maybe it’s more grating because I’ve seen him in other things, but in Devil’s Chair he tries for the funnybone, intentionally or not, and it’s quite jarring compared with the rest of the cast’s efforts. His magnificent voice actually works against him in this case.
In contrast, Nick West’s constant narration about how much he hates the university schmucks drags the whole story down, bashing on and on with his repetitious contempt – we get it, you truly loathe the academics and think you’re better than anyone else there – but it does, at least, serve a purpose.
If you can get past the awkwardness of its presentation, there’s plenty here for gorehounds. Clocking in at 91 minutes, it doesn’t overstay its welcome, and gleefully straddles that awkward, camp-yet-nasty area that the Human Centipede movies squirm around in. Whilst its monster is pretty great, and the twist even greater, this is definitely not a GOOD flick. But if you can get past the smug-bastard voiceover – which does ultimately serve a purpose – then it’s a bloody good ride into low-budget madness.
Review with SPOILERS below – going to go into detail here about events in the film, decisions of characters. Do not proceed further unless you really want to know what happens. Also don’t read its wikipedia entry, which summarises the entirety of the plot for some reason.
So, here I get to quickly discuss what I really think in detail. I still maintain that this is an OK movie, much better than ever expected. The twist is actually pretty great as well – the guy who was suspected of murdering his girlfriend at the start is, in fact, the one murdering them all at the end. This isn’t a new twist, but it’s a payoff for having to listen to him whine all through the film. I sat up and went – thank fuck for that. Because, it’s MEANT to be ridiculous – because it’s all being translated from within his warped brain and he’s almost aware of it and that he’s been spinning us, or the voices inside his head, a total sack of balls. This dude’s utterly insane in ways that Patrick Bateman might envy, right down the losing the fourth wall. So yes, the revelation kind of invalidates all the monster stuff but, I’m not really mad. We still got monsters and freaky events and over-groomed ladies having sex with people in a dangerous way, only for the actual sex to be extremely unpleasant and unwanted. Plus we have a relentless axe-crazy maniac and a real ‘reality ensues’ moment. There’s no escaping either monster in this grungy little nightmare, but frankly – I’d much rather deal with the devil demon than Nick.
Summary review – still really full of SPOILERS:
- The monster’s uncanny, massive outline slamming towards its victims down narrow asylum corridors. Eeep.
- The presence of Matt Berry (mainly his voice though…)
- Elize du Toit’s acting – she’s unexpectedly good and has lovely poise and presence here.
- Some rather nice visuals, this isn’t a badly filmed flick (though shoestring budget is clear) though I don’t think HD is really its friend, and kill the blue filters already…(and in nearly all other films please)
- The lengthy rant that reveals the twist.
- The twist at the end. Redeems a helluva lot of its campy bullshit. Poor Elize du Toit.
- Better than expected.
- When the monster is filmed close up and it’s clear it’s just a horse’s skull smeared in greenish slime with bin-liner covered, ropey tentacles attached. Too much light ruins it.
- Almost everyone else’s acting, though the script is a lot more at fault than they are.
- Matt Berry thinking that ‘obnoxious twat’ is an interesting trait for his character.
- The voiceover, for at least for 90% of the damn movie. Though it does have a point.
- Feels a little awkward.