THE CHAMBER. (2016) WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY BEN PARKER. MUSIC BY JAMES DEAN BRADFIELD OF THE MANIC STREET PREACHERS.
STARRING JOHANNES KUHNKE, CHARLOTTE SALT, JAMES MCARDLE AND ELLIOT LEVEY. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
Well, this is one hell of a debut feature film for British director Ben Parker, putting him firmly in the one-to-watch-for-the-future category. You mightn't think that a film about four people trapped in a confined space for several hours would be interesting but, with a great cast, sharp script-writing and top-notch direction, all things are possible, even that. Especially that...
It's a slickly-made thriller about the aforementioned four peeps in a rickety old submarine that, on its skipper's own admission, should never have passed its MOT. If it even had one...! The skipper in question is the handsome Scandinavian Mats, played by Johannes Kuhnke whom you might recognise from TV's WALLANDER or BLACK WIDOWS.
He's been asked by some maritime bigwigs if he'll take three passengers on board his dinky submarine with him and bring them down to the bottom of the ocean, not far from Korean waters. Apparently having nothing better to do, Mats agrees. He can only have himself to blame then when the three passengers turn out to be way more trouble than they're worth.
The three-man Special Ops team Mats has been persuaded to ferry about in his little tin-can of a vessel are made up of the following: Denholm, nicknamed 'Holmes,' a quiet bearded English brainiac; Parks, an American muscle-man with a hot head and a quick temper; and finally, Alice 'Red' Edwards, another American and the ball-breaking female boss of the trio.
Red is an interesting character. With her long dark hair plaited behind her head to an insanely regulated degree, she's the kind of tough American woman who's had to make it to the top in a man's world and, in order to do that, she's had to be twice as ruthless as the men around her, maybe even playing down her femininity and eschewing motherhood to do so.
She reminds me of Holly Hunter in the film COPYCAT, also starring Sigourney Weaver, Dermot Mulroney and Robert Downey Jr. as a really creepy serial killer. Holly Hunter plays a cop in this film, charged with hunting down Robert Downey Jr. and bringing him to justice.
She spends a lot of the movie coming suddenly into rooms with her gun in her outstretched hands, you know the way cops do it.
Charlotte Salt, the actress who plays Red in THE CHAMBER and whom you might know from TV's THE MUSKETEERS and THE TUDORS (oooh, somebody likes her period dramas...!), looks a lot like Holly Hunter in COPYCAT. She even has that kind of sideways-mouth quirky thing that Hunter has.
She's an excellent actress, this Charlotte Salt, but you sure don't want to get on her wrong side. Just look at the way she takes down Parks, the tall and very solidly-built American muscle-man on her team. I know it's only a film, but it still looks terrifyingly real...!
Anyway, what exactly is it that they're after, down there at the bottom of the murky ocean miles from anywhere safe but uncomfortably close to Korean waters? (Korea is the enemy in this film.) The bits where we don't know what it is they're looking for are absolutely thrilling.
At one point, I was starting to become convinced that it was a monster they were after, like the megalodon shark or the Loch Ness Monster, and that was super-exciting for me because I really dig my monsters. Especially enormous sea monsters. The sea is so vast. Who knows what's under there? Human beings know more about outer space than they do about the oceans of the world. I've always found that to be a very, very chilling little fact.
I can't tell you what it is they're after on their precious little top-secret mission, but I can tell you that an error of judgement on Red's part (the oh-so-disciplined Red makes an actual mistake...???) leaves the frightened quartet stranded on the sea-bed with all contact broken off between them and their 'top ship,' as it's called.
They've sprung a leak, one of their party has been badly injured and tensions are running higher than that big old wall a certain President said he was gonna build but presumably never will because there'll be no end to the controversy, haha.
How the hell are they going to get out of this hideous situation, Mats and his prickly buddies from Special Ops? Is it even possible to escape or are they all doomed to die in the handsome Mats' creaky old sardine can of a submarine?
That brings me to one or two questions that have been bothering me. There's no toilet in the submarine. What if someone needs to go potty? It's never even referred to in the movie. There's apparently no food or drink in the vessel either, not even a bottle of water which you'd think would be standard submarine issue.
Nowhere to make a cup of tea either. As I have to have tea mainlined through my veins every hour or so, I clearly wouldn't last five minutes aboard this crap-shack of a death-trap.
Even though we're told repeatedly that the submarine is a crappy one, it's still a shock to discover that there are only two safety suits between four adults. It's gonna have to be a case of two-to-a-suit, people. Red, are you okay to share with Mats? Oh right, you're already inside the suit with him. Typical desperate single female, making the most of every opportunity to land a bloody man...! Even death can't stop 'em in their tracks.
This fantastic, suspense-filled and utterly gripping directorial debut from Ben Parker is out on special release right now. It's on DVD, Blu-Ray and Digital Download courtesy of STUDIOCANAL and the good people of FETCH PUBLICITY.
It comes with a great little featurette about the making of the film and the actual construction of the one-roomed submarine. It's fascinating to watch, and there are interviews with the director and members of the cast and crew as well. Wait till you hear where the film was made! Hint: it wasn't made anywhere near Korea, haha.
Well, enjoy the film. It's brilliant. I've got to go now and ring the Health & Safety Standards people about a certain submarine, um, I mean, erm, local chipper. A chipper without a toilet or even a kettle to make a nice cup of tea? Unthinkable...
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
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