This was a gift. Dan bought if for me because Matt Berry's in it. I love Matt Berry.
Four years ago Nick West and his girlfriend Sammy got high in an abandoned asylum. Then Sammy died and Nick was charged with her murder and locked away in a mental hospital. He claimed a chair killed her. Now Nick has come to terms with his past and takes responsibility for Sammy's death. He's released into the custody of a psychiatrist who takes him back to the asylum under the pretense of writing a book about Nick's case. Once in the asylum, Dr. Willard confesses that he believes Nick's original story about the deadly chair and reveals to him the sordid history of the asylum and it's chief doctor.
The entire film is narrated by Nick himself and opens with clips from the bloodbath that will take place at the end. I wondered why, I mean I know I'm watching a horror movie, I know everyone's gonna die, but why spoil it? And now that I've seen the whole thing, I can make a guess. I guess because the film twists and heads in strange directions, you wrack your brain trying to see how what's happening on screen will eventually lead to what you saw at the beginning. I'm still not sure it's effective. In fact, the film abuses its audience, abused me, and so when the story came together in the end, I simply thought, "oh" and left it at that.
The Devil's Chair is an odd movie. I hesitate to call it self-reflexive; rather, the narration draws attention to the fact that what you're watching is entirely made up. There is no irony involved, only a question of whether you can trust the storyteller. It's an interesting idea, but maybe not well executed. The film is competently made, and the gore is well done--the scene where one person strokes another's open neck wound, right in the throat I might add, is particularly disgusting. But Nick's narration openly insults the audience, berates you for choosing to watch this very film, and admits the movie is badly written. Again, the irony is lost but this time it's unintentional.
I'd have to say that on the whole, the movie's worth watching. And now that I think about it, Nick's references to Hellraiser and Pumpkinhead which he makes right at the start, are red flags warning or preparing the audience for what lies ahead. The final twist, however, when it comes, is not foreshadowed. At least, not as such. And it is also at that point the narration stops. I'd like to argue it's because we've reached a new place in the story where narration is no longer useful or indeed necessary, but I might be giving the filmmakers too much credit. A final word from Nick would have been nice, though, just for symmetry.
As for Matt Berry, his role is small and he suffers the worst fate of all: an off-screen death.