I believe horror has the biggest catalog of subcategories; more than any other genre of film. Horror has been around for decades, just over a century at this point, and has withstood all of the changes, crazes and fads that have come along with the passage of time. Albeit, some subgenres have fallen at the wayside due to the ever changing climate of demanding fans. Grindhouse features are probably in the league of top three flailing into oblivious subgenres of film because they receive far less treatments from filmmakers trying to replicate the atmosphere and feels of the 70’s and 80’s classics. But gorefans can rejoice! Grindhouse lives in 2016 thanks to a Juggernaut of a movie called The Chair. The Chair is thee closest thing you’ll get to the perfect grindhouse movie since Death Proof and Planet Terror in 2007.
The Chair started as a graphic novel from Peter Simeti which is currently being distributed to comic book retailers by Alterna Comics. A couple years ago Simeti adapted the source material from comic to script with the help of Erin Kohut. With tremendous backing from Crappy World Films, Girls and Corpses, and We Make Movies, The Chair nabbed director Chad Ferrin (Someone’s Knocking at the Door) and cinematographer Christian Janss (Chop) and went into principal photography a year ago in hopes of producing a picture that would really punch audiences in the gut. From what I saw during my viewing, they’ve succeeded in that endeavor tremendously. I’m sure the contributions of the monumentally talented cast didn’t hurt the goal, either considering Bill Oberst Jr. (Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies), Roddy Piper (“WWE,” They Live), Noah Hathaway (The Never Ending Story), Zach Galligan (Gremlins, Hatchet 3), Naomi Grossman (“American Horror Story”), Timothy Muskatell (The Ghouls), Ezra Buzzington (The Hills Have Eyes), Derrick Damions (“One Life to Live”) and Kin Shriner (“General Hospital”) all have roles here.
The film follows, “Richard Sullivan, an innocent man struggling to escape his fate on death row. Witnessing the savage killings of his fellow inmates at the hands of the prison’s sadistic and psychotic Warden and his crew of guards, Sullivan decides that the only way to survive is to fight back. With the body count rising, the Warden and his guards close in on Sullivan. As he matches the brutality occurring in the prison, Sullivan starts to lose his grip on reality. Memories of the childhood abuse he suffered at the hands of his mother combine with vivid hallucinations which push him to the very edge, forcing him to question his sanity at every turn.”
I thoroughly enjoyed my viewing of The Chair, but I have to say there aren’t a lot of happy moments to be found. There aren’t any happy moments, actually. It’s kind of comical to think I found enjoyment in a movie that’s so psychologically damaging and sad and vicious. The Chair is brutality at its finest and it starts from the moment the film begins. The level of suspense and the measure of claustrophobia are so intense that you’ll feel like you’re choking or on the verge of a panic attack during your viewing. Normal circles would see this as dangerous and a cause for concern, but as a horror fan I’d like to commend the creators of this movie because the job was done right – The Chair horrifies you and it hurts you, and that is an experience. That’s what movies are supposed to do. They’re supposed to take you out of the world you live in and place you in another for an hour and a half. Although The Chair isn’t full of rainbows and gumdrops, anyone looking to tap into the darker sides of their personalities, vengeful and aggressive and seething with rage, can do so with this movie.
The Chair is void of the typical protagonists vs. antagonists approach to plot progression because there is no hope. There is no positive outcome. Even if the lead character survives, what will be left of him – both in body and spirit? This film will rattle the characters’ bodies while it tortures your mind. It brings a new meaning to psychological horror in a way I haven’t experienced in a long time. It’s just so dark. I generally stray from horror films that take place in a prison setting, but I was enthralled by The Chair‘s lead in of cult icons and ended up going on a very dark and bloody journey with them. Compliments to the cast and crew for making a feature film that kept me watching the entire way through and actually left me wanting more. What a gory, claustrophobic nightmare… But, it’s one I think people will really dig, too. The Chair is screening in select theaters across America and you can find the full list here: http://www.thechairhorror.com/. I encourage you to go. Get dirty. Get Scared. LET LOOSE! Final Score: 9 out of 10.