“This thing is shaky at best”
Submersible Captain Mats is duped into allowing his dilapidated rust bucket to be commandeered for a covert mission to the bottom of the Yellow Sea.
When a frankly derisory stab at forward-planning crashes headlong into an astoundingly moronic decision the assignment goes critically awry. After a few more egocentrically idiotic calls, Mats and a trio of one-dimensional special operatives are left stranded on the seabed fighting for their lives.
The essential ingredients for a successful chamber piece thriller are; electric dialogue spiced up with linguistic flourishes that twist the narrative, superb actors with pungent back storeys and an original plot thick with vibrant social relevance. One such prime example is the muscular movie heavyweight 12 Angry Men. However, in this irritatingly flimsy flick, we are offered little more than a sparse smorgasbord of 1 ludicrous premise, 4 squabbling sardines and a dodgy jump scare.
Everybody shouts at everybody, in a patience eroding blame game, until the poor beleaguered viewer is hounded into a head pounding case of the bicker-bends. A complete lack of brevity and wit gives rise to the suspicion that the confined space was chosen to contain the budget rather than gestate any resounding core concepts.
The Chamber is painfully hamstrung by an uninspiring and repetitive script that’s so crammed full of clichés you half expect them to suggest drawing straws at some point. And you would, of course, be right.
The characters seem to be in constant competition to see who can be the most unconvincing by randomly teetering between blatant narcissism, enraged incompetence and watery acceptance. An overbearing endurance test that leaves scant wiggle room for any audience empathy. They are little more than soulless puppets spouting the kind of dumb questions that have no smart answers.
This withering of cinematic connective tissue culminates in the most inappropriately timed screen kiss in recent memory. At best it’s an ill-advised attempt at levity and at worst a last-ditch bid to garner some emotional clemency.
The talented Charlotte Salt (Blood and Glory) makes a decent fist of it as the special forces commander who sends everyone brown water rafting down craphole creek with toilet paper paddles. But even she can’t save a nickname origin story that’s so cringingly contrived it leaves behind the expositional equivalent of an entrenched skidmark.
Struggling to grab an ear above the banal yammering is Manic Street Preacher James Dean Bradfield’s first ever film score. Echoing Stewart Copeland’s debut on Rumblefish it shows potential in the transition from pop songs to the more complex atmospheric structures of a soundtrack.
The Chamber is also the debut feature length from British director/writer Ben Parker. Unfortunately, whilst the direction is relatively airtight, it’s the rickety screenplay that fatally ruptures the pressure hull.
| Bradley Hadcroft
Aquatic Survival Thriller | UK 2016 | 128 mins | |Studiocanal| UK DVD 20 Mar. 2017 | Dir. Ben Parker| Cast. Johannes Kuhnke, Charlotte Salt, James McArdle | BUY