What the hell is White Chamber?! You might be asking. I understand your confusion, as this is a very obscure movie that flew under everyone’s radar, including mine.
In fact, I spent the weekend in England, a couple of weeks ago, to visit with my girlfriend her parents and just ended up in the theatre not knowing what to watch. Since White Chamber was about to play and it featured Shauna Macdonald in the poster, I pushed to watch it.
So, what is White Chamber about? This is an indie sci-fi/horror film from England, starring Macdonald, who you might remember as the lead in The Descent and The Descent 2. The movie is set in the near future, in the United Kingdom torn apart by a civil war: soon after the opening scene explains the setting, we see Dr. Elle Chrystler (Shauna) being held hostage in a blindingly white cuboid cell, the titular white chamber. There, her captor (Oded Fehr) tortures her for information using the cell’s sophisticated functionality. However, as Elle is subjected to all kinds of physical and psychological abuse, her mind wonders to the events that led to that, which is what we get to see in the film.
Continue reading and check my final grade below…
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During the beginning, White Chamber reminded me of a combination of The Purge, Cube and Saw. Although this movie certainly borrows elements from those franchises, it sets itself apart with an unpredictable and refreshing plot – which I’m not going to spoil in case you get the chance to watch the movie.
Reading about the writer and director of White Chamber – Paul Raschid – I learned he’s only 24 years old, and this is already his third feature. I was quite shocked, as this film looks extremely stylistic and well-directed: despite its low-budget, the production values are impressive. The contained setting works very well in the movie’s favour, as the simple but effective cinematography truly shines. Yet, there’s an impressive number of different and unconventional camera angles utilised throughout the 90-minute-long runtime: Raschid truly gave a unique look and style to his third film. And having a unique style is arguably one of the most important aspects for a motion picture.
Due to the limitations, the filmmakers worked sparingly with the makeup and special effects, in a way that makes them look believable and rather impressive. There’s gore and blood in the film, although White Chamber relies more on its story and on the psychological “war” between characters. Speaking of characters, Dr. Elle Chrystler and her assistant Ruth (Amrita Acharia) are quite multi-layered and interesting to follow throughout the movie. The rest of the cast pull off solid performances nonetheless, aside from a couple of silly overacted moments.
Yet, the nonlinear timeline in combination with the switching from one point of view to another creates a very interesting contrast between the two factions depicted in the movie: White Chamber also refuses to focus on their political agenda and prefers to analyse the private side of the people involved. A very clever choice that increases the value of this film, in my opinion.
Other than a couple of scenes between second and third act, where the pacing seems to drag, White Chamber is fantastically paced: it’s not an action-packed nor a slow-burn movie. It just has a constant pace that makes it never boring.
Although I’ve been praising the directing by Raschid throughout this review, I can’t help but criticise his writing. In fact, the script is by far the weakest element of White Chamber.
The main issue is that there’s nothing for the viewer to discover: everything is spelled out for you through lazy narration or exposition-driven dialogue or lazy monologues. The movie also features one of the elements typical of lazy scripts, hence when the characters tell each other how they’re related to one another. This is something that never happens in real life and instantly takes the scenes to a grinding halt.
Speaking of weak script, the last 15 minutes of White Chamber are quite underwhelming, with a lame and unnecessary plot twist and a few silly sci-fi fights that only serve to conclude a story that could’ve been ended in many more interesting ways. On top of that, there’s a glaring plot hole (where are the guards?!… I’ll leave it at that not to spoil the movie) that will most likely have you rolling your eyes endlessly.
Despite these rather severe issues, White Chamber is a very enjoyable and intriguing film that features a lot of great elements. If you don’t mind movies that tell you everything you need to know through lazy and obnoxious exposition, you should be able to truly love this movie. And don’t get me wrong, aside from some complaints I couldn’t ignore, I really liked White Chamber as well. I can’t wait to see what this young filmmaker will do next and I sincerely hope you’ll be able to catch the film as soon as possible!
White Chamber 6.5/10
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