The Chamber

***1/2

Reviewed by: Jane Fae

The Chamber
"An engaging, riveting watch."

The Chamber, insofar as it consists largely of unsympathetic people shouting unsympathetic things at one another, before even worse things happen to them, is really not my kind of film. Sorry, but give me an upbeat happy ending every time. And since some reviewers have insisted on labelling this as “claustrophobic” and “horror”, I was in two minds about whether to watch it at all.

So I was pleasantly surprised to find that even though I didn't much like the narrative I did find The Chamber an engaging, riveting watch: not a bad way to pass an hour-and-a-half; even better if you like gritty, realistic derring do. For The Chamber is really a thriller – a sort of Cube meets the seven dwarves. OK, four dwarves: Mats (Johannes Kuhnke), Edwards (Charlotte Salt), Denholm (Elliot Levey), and Parks (James McArdle); or as I quickly came to think of them, Grumpy, Icemaiden, Psycho and Nerd.

The set-up is simple and achieved with a minimum of dialogue. Grumpy – sorry, Mats – is a researcher, very much in the Jacques Cousteau mould, possessed of a barely seaworthy submersible. His grumpiness level swiftly ratchets up a notch or two as he and his sub are recruited to provide assistance to three very obviously hush-hush military types on a mission to recover an unspecified object on the seabed just outside North Korean waters. Or, as he quickly discovers after they set sail, just inside North Korean waters.

Despite his obvious reluctance to continue, he is persuaded by a combination of appeals to his better nature from Icemaiden and threats of serious violence from Psycho.

Then things start to go wrong.

Someone – presumably the North Koreans – boards their mother ship, leaving them underwater and on their own. The communications link, through which they have been communicating with spook central, goes down, leaving them cut off and alone.

And then things really go wrong.

No spoilers. Suffice it to say that the rest of the film is all about the four of them, working out how to escape their now incapacitated submersible – the Chamber of the title - stuck on the seabed and gradually filling with water.

It should come as no surprise that not all of them will make it, but writer/director Ben Parker handles the interaction between our slowly dwindling crew well and credibly and by the end, I found myself genuinely engaged with the fate of the last survivors.

The only slightly jarring note – for me – was a point when Icemaiden melted ever so slightly and Grumpy got less grumpy and....really? You're maybe all about to die and suddenly romance is blooming 200 feet below the sea surface? Nah, that is to stretch credulity just a little too far.

Reviewed on: 14 Mar 2017
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The Chamber packshot
A submarine endeavours to locate a mysterious item at the bottom of the Yellow Sea off the dangerous shores of the Korean Peninusla. When an explosion causes it to overturn and take on water, the four-man crew enter a pressure cooker situation.

Director: Ben Parker

Writer: Ben Parker

Starring: Charlotte Salt, Johannes Kuhnke, Christian Hillborg, Elliot Levey, James McArdle

Year: 2016

Runtime: 88 minutes

Country: UK


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