Chain of Death – Film Review
Director: David Martín Porras
Cast: Ray Wise, Madeline Zima, Adrienne Barbeau
by Sarah Morgan
Having spent far too much of my life watching low budget horror movies, I thought I’d pretty much seen everything the genre had to throw at me. You might even suggest I’d become a little jaded by it all.
However, Chain of Death managed to keep me on my toes by mixing various older ideas to come up with something relatively new.
There’s certainly a hint of Strangers on a Train here, as the main protagonist, optician Mike, becomes part of a group that doesn’t swap murders, but does help each other commit suicide if the thought of living – whether it’s because of depression, terminal illness or something else – becomes too much to cope with.
“Sets up his own death”
Mike returns home with his wife to help his mother care for his ailing father. Dad is also an optician, and Mike is able to keep the practice running, despite not really enjoying the work.
However, a hand tremor and memory issues begin to bother him, so he undergoes tests that reveal he has the same degenerative neurological issue as his father, and that like him, he eventually won’t be able to take care of himself and will be left in a near-vegetative state.
Devastated, Mike searches for a way out, which is when he is introduced to the assisted suicide group. He sets up his own death, but after being given the hope of a cure via an experimental drug, desperately tries to put a stop to it.
There are so many twists and turns to the story that it’s impossible to discuss any more of what happens without giving something away. Needless to say, viewers are left guessing until the very end.
John Patrick Amedori, who’s best known for appearing in Gossip Girl and Dear White People, makes an engaging lead, but I was particularly grabbed by Ray Wise as his father. He played troubled, unhinged patriarch Leland Palmer in Twin Peaks, and although his role here isn’t too far removed from that, he’s always a delight to watch thanks to his manic grin which makes him seem like a sort of low-rent version of Jack Nicholson; he certainly keeps viewers guessing about his character’s motivations here.
Chain of Death isn’t a masterpiece by any means, but if your tastes involve inventive storylines, chilling tales and charismatic performances, you may, like me, be pleasantly surprised.
‘Chain of Death’ is released on DVD by Cleopatra Entertainment