The Chamber movie review: hell and high water

Get new reviews in your email in-box or in an app by becoming a paid Substack subscriber or Patreon patron.

The Chamber green light

MaryAnn’s quick take…

A wonder of low-budget suspense, this is a horror movie with no monsters, only people in an impossible situation. Intense, claustrophobic, totally gripping.tweet
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
women’s participation in this film
male director, male screenwriter, female coprotagonist
(learn more about this)

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 dramatweet 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.



share and enjoy
             
If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, please reconsider.
If you haven’t commented here before, your first comment will be held for MaryAnn’s approval. This is an anti-spam, anti-troll measure. If you’re not a spammer or a troll, your comment will be approved, and all your future comments will post immediately.
subscribe
notify of
2 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
view all comments
Jurgan
Sun, Mar 12, 2017 1:02am

“The Chamber recalls Open Water”

Reading your description, I thought of Buried, actually.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Jurgan
Mon, Mar 13, 2017 6:34pm

Yes, that one too, a bit. Maybe not *quite* as claustrophobic, though, and not a deliberate attempt to imprison anyone.