Claustrophobic, tense and stylish three adjectives that perfectly sum up Ben Parker’s directional debut. ‘The Chamber’ is an underwater thriller which sees places you on the edge of your seat and doesn’t let you settle until the final credits roll.
‘Mats’ is a tough but level headed civilian sub- pilot who is reluctantly signed up for a covert mission with US Navy Seals. It’s on a need to know basis, and he doesn’t need to know, needless to say he isn’t happy about that but a contractual technicality means it don’t matter, he’s going and he had better get used to it. All that is revealed, other than that the team trespassing deep into North Korean waters, is that if getting to the mission site was going to be tough, getting back is going to be tougher. After a bit of awkward banter and some alpha-male posturing the crew begin to descend into the dark depths. Indeed, what’s on the inside of the sub proves as hostile as what’s on the outside, and ultimately every second begins to count if any of them are to make it back alive.
As basic (and to some extent predicable) the plot of the film may seem, it somehow benefits from a lack of deviation. For once this linearity this is a good thing. It skips the convoluted bloating which many similar films suffer from at the start, and it lets you get straight into the plight; indeed, more importantly developing the characters whom we must relate to if the film is to make the impact needed to make it a success. I believe impact is everything in a thriller, it needs to grab you and not let go, however all too often, especially in stripped down survival thrillers such as this, I find the pressure put on a cast to deliver consistently on set, is what begins to be their undoing and all to often they end up becoming frustrating personas whose actions seem somewhat disjointed (not to mention often hero-cheesy) to the life-threatening scenario.
In ‘The Chamber’ the opposite is true. These characters are not only reasonably relatable they are consistent throughout, especially when things reach boiling point when suddenly, their survival training kicks in and you realise the posturing wasn’t just a clichéd front. The acting is on point throughout – hell even ‘that annoying’ guy comes into his own when the time comes.
Indeed, with regards to the threat, this is another element which the film simply delivers. It is conceivable, perhaps a little bland by other ‘disaster’ style scenarios, but it fits in nicely with the films direction up to that point. Naturally I don’t want to ruin it for your giving away details, but rest assured the tension gradually builds as our ensemble of characters simply cannot catch a break, experiencing a cascade of disasters through which you just know there is not going to be a happy ending for everyone.
Overall there is little more that can be said without divulging elements intrinsic to your enjoyment of the film so I will end by stating that ‘The Chamber’ is a slick thriller, pacey and packing an emotional punch. It’s well written, well shot, indeed the whole film puts your right there in the mix. Hold your breath, its one hell of a ride.