Erin Kohut (screenplay), Peter Simeti (story and characters)
Bill Oberst Jr., Roddy Piper, Noah Hathaway
Richard Sullivan, a man on death row, struggling to escape a grisly fate. Pitted against a sadistic Warden and his crew of cruel prison guards, Sullivan is forced to confront his own horrifying past as he questions his sanity at every turn.
Horror fans have never had it so good when it comes to indie horror comics. There is the likes of The Walking Dead, that has gone on to find mainstream success after it was adapted by AMC for Tv and gone on to be the most watched show in the US. And now indie comic publisher Alterna Comics are hoping the film adaptation of The Chair brings them even a portion of the success TWD has enjoyed!
Based on Peter Simenti’s horror comic of the same name, The Chair is a psychological thriller that focuses on a death row prisoner named Richard Sullivan(Timothy Muskatell). Sullivan is a bad, bad man who has been convicted for the murder of TWELVE children. He now spends his day stick in a cell, and as well as having to keep the other prisoners at bay, he also has to contend with his sadistic Warden(Bill Oberst Jr.) who takes pleasure torturing his inmates. Unfortunately for Sullivan, witnessing this abuse of his fellow inmates day in day out is too much to take and he decides to fight back against his torturers, only for some truly horrifying secrets to come to light, as well as his own suppressed memories returning to hit him like a ton of bricks!
Reading this summery of the plot, you would be forgiven if you believe The Chair is a run of the mill “torture porn” flick. But while it has a torture porn-esque feel, its actually much, much more. Director Chad Ferrin has given the film an unerring, claustrophobic feel, almost tricking your mind into thinking you are banged up with these people. This really makes you feel uneasy, and you initially start to feel for the prisoners. Until, that is, you find out who they are. Rapists, paedophiles, killers, they are the real dregs of society. It causes a strange juxtaposition where you are appalled by the actions of the guards, but also feel that the prisoners are just getting what they deserve, which is very unnerving! Luckily for us viewers, the film largely focusses of Sullivan and his reactions to the torture.
With the cast list The Chair has, the acting quality was always going to be a bit hit and miss. When I watched it with my other half, it felt like every 5 minutes one of us was shouting “look, its (insert name of actor/character from one of our fave films)” For example, Zach Galligan from the Gremlins movies plays a guard(his over the top performance raised a few laughs from us) , and other familiar names such Noah Hathaway from “The Never Ending Story” and the late, but legendary “Rowdy” Roddy Piper also feature.
Tim Muskatell puts in a solid, if unspectacular turn as the troubled Sullivan. Personally, I couldn't get emotionally connected to the character, but my other half said she did and was really pulling for him in the end. I thought the best performance was by “Hot Rod” himself. I mean, he was never going to win any awards, but the fa-
ct that I, a fan of pro wrestling since I was 5 years old and watched huge parts of his career unfold, didn’t recognise him for what felt like an eternity should seek wonders. He basically tuned himself into a prize one monster, and made his character so unlikable we were just gagging for something bad to happen to him!
Another stand out performance, is genre regular Bill Oberst Jr’s portrayal as the Warden, who just radiates evilness so much, that you want these twisted prisoners that have committed some of the sickest crimes imaginable to get their hands on him!
As much as we enjoyed this film, it just never hit the highs that we expected from all the hype it received. For a start, the “torture”, although it worked, wasn’t the most imaginative. Also, it looked like the makers struggled a little with its financial constraints, as it just felt rough around the edges.
Also, some of the violence can be a bit much for those of us not desensitised to it. For example, there are flashback scenes of child abuse and a seriously long rape scene. Now, I know why these scenes are in the movie. They are supposed to question the status quo, and make you think about who the real monsters are in the prison. But in reality I think it has worked against the film, and the old saying “less is more” comes to mind.
To sum things up, much like films such as “Saw” and “Hostel”, The Chair isn’t a film to bob on for a pleasant evening. it can be quite intense and very gritty, and for this reason alone, it wont be for everyone. If you are into the afore mentioned films, then give The Chair a go, as the films raw, gritty and savage heart will be right up your street!