Every now and then along comes a new director who blows you away with his innate talent, and Ben Parker has done just that with The Chamber. Entrusted with his first full feature on the strength of an impressively gory and action-packed short, Shifter (Google it up and watch it on Vimeo, you’ll not be disappointed), he has crafted a slow-fuse master class in claustrophobic tension. And it doesn’t come much more claustrophobic than a film with just four main characters trapped in a small submersible at the bottom of the Korean Yellow Sea. In the hands of a weak director, or handed over to the wrong actors, this could have been disastrous, but Parker conceived and wrote the script as well, and knew exactly what he wanted to capture on screen, and the actors are all perfect in their individual roles. Everyone commits 100%, hence the intensity of the end product.
As the situation goes from bad to worse, and the plot unfolds revealing the true extent of the mission, and our characters start losing it left, right and centre, Parker ratchets the excitement and the sense of impending doom. Given the restricted space to stage them, the action scenes are also handled impeccably, with the viewer right in the pocket for every vicious blow. Charlotte Salt gets to kick some Ripley-level ass, as team leader Red, but everyone brings it when required. Thanks to some great characterisation we believe in these people and care about what happens to them, which isn’t pleasant or anything you would wish on your worst enemy and The Chamber is not only a fantastic enclosed space thriller, but also a riveting study of survivalism. When faced with your imminent demise, how far are you prepared to go to secure yourself a few more minutes of life? The ending may have you gnashing your teeth, but this is an impressive debut that promises great things to come from Ben Parker.
Be sure to watch the ‘making of’ featurette too, which reveals the many physical problems faced during the shoot, and gives an insight into all aspects of the production, including the soundtrack (his first for a feature film) by James Dean Bradfield of the Manic Street Preachers. Ian Glasper