A wonder of low-budget suspense, this is a horror movie with no monsters, only people in an impossible situation. Intense, claustrophobic, totally gripping.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
An American military team commandeers a rickety old submersible from a Swedish research vessel in South Korean waters for a secret mission. Submersible pilot Mats (Johannes Kuhnke) is unhappy that he has too little time to prep his “scrappy and fragile” sub to carry their mysterious payload and more people than it really should, but he has no choice, and off they go to the ocean floor: himself, black-ops leader Red (Charlotte Salt: Beowulf), tech nerd Denholm (Elliot Levey: Denial), and hothead (there’s always a hothead) Parks (James McArdle: Star Wars: The Force Awakens). With all of Mat’s safety procedures and communications protocols with the surface out of play, and no idea what his passengers will expect of him, he’s in a difficult situation from the get-go, and of course it all soon takes a disastrously bad turn.
This first feature from British filmmaker Ben Parker is a wonder of inventive, low-budget suspense and human drama in a claustrophobically small space — there isn’t even room to stand up in the sub — with the crushing weight of the vast ocean squeezing tight around it. This is a horror movie with no monsters, only people in an impossible situation that unmasks their true selves as panic vies with reason: can they science the shit out of their conundrum, and what happens if they can’t? Without being in any way imitative, The Chamber recalls Open Water in how it reminds us how big the planet is and how careless it is for our well-being when we dare to take ourselves places we maybe don’t belong. Chilling, intense, and totally gripping: I love this movie.
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