Starring Shauna Macdonald, Oded Fehr, Amrita Acharia, Sharon Maughn, Nicholas Farrell, Candis Nergaard. Directed by Paul Raschid. (2018/89 min).
On Blu-ray from DARK SKY FILMS
Review by Stinky the Destroyer😼
We’ve all been duped by good trailers for crappy movies. But in this case, the opposite is true.
The trailer for White Chamber does the film a disservice, making it look like a rip-off of the 1997 cult classic, Cube, with a little bit of the Saw franchise thrown in for the yahoo crowd. Fortunately, writer-director Paul Raschid has loftier ambitions.
Presumably taking place in the near future, the United Kingdom is under military rule and currently at-war with a resistance movement led by Narek Zakarian (Oded Fehr). But a majority of the story takes place in and around the titular room, which appears to be a high-tech torture chamber. Inside is a woman (Shauna Macdonald) who’s being interrogated from outside by Zakarian for information. She says her name is Ruth and just a low-level federal employee who knows nothing.
When the story flashes back five days, it’s Zakarian who’s in the chamber and “Ruth” is actually Dr. Elle Chrystler, a high-level government researcher trying to develop a highly-addictive synthetic drug that makes one nearly oblivious to pain. Zakarian has been captured and she’s using him as her guinea pig to test the effects of the drug. It’s pretty nasty stuff, and Chrystler grows increasingly cruel as the story progresses, indifferent to the suffering she’s inflicting.
|"Where's the damn bathroom?"|
But even then, the viewer isn’t quite certain where to place their sympathies. Chrystler has pretty legitimate reasons for her vindictiveness, but she’s also cold-blooded and abusive. And we still aren’t sure what to make of Zakarian throughout most of the film. He could very-well be the vicious murderer the government makes him out to be, but there are several moments when he displays more humanity than any other character.
For the most part, it’s an intriguing story, punctuated by solid performances by Fehr and Macdonald. The chamber itself – and the laboratory where it’s housed – is an appropriately stark setting (though with no visible toilet, it does prompt one to question where Zakarian’s been relieving himself, but never mind). There are enough narrative turns to keep things interesting - as well as a memorably horrific scene involving fingers – at least until the final act, which is sort-of a let-down. I haven’t yet decided to the climactic twist is a cheat or just underwhelming. But until then, White Chamber is much better than its derivative trailer suggests.
PURR-R-R...LIKE A GOOD SCRATCH BEHIND THE EARS