A near-future Britain, (the opening graphic says “Soon”), where the government has devolved into a military dictatorship and a rebellion is taking place. This is the setting of White Chamber, the second feature from writer/director Paul Raschid (Servants Quarters). Dystopian futures are a hallmark of British fiction, how well does it hold up the tradition?
A woman, (Shauna MacDonald, The Descent) wakes up in the titular location. A small enclosed space designed to allow all manner of torture. General Zakarian (Oded Fehr, Lair, Resident Evil: Apocalypse) is using it to find out what has been going on at the facility. Ruth claims to only be a low-level administrative aid and does not have any knowledge of the classified activities. He, of course, doesn’t believe her.
The film suddenly shifts five days into the past and we begin to see the events leading up to this. Almost immediately we see things are not what they seem. It’s hard to say much more without dropping spoilers. The filmmakers went as far as not listing the names of the characters on IMDB in order to keep plot details hidden. Once you start watching you’ll see why.
Filmed on a low budget, with very limited sets Raschid wisely sets much of The White Chamber in the chamber itself. This lets us feel the same claustrophobia that its occupant would. At least between the bouts of torture the chamber is capable of inflicting. Extreme heat, cold, electric shock, etc. Can any person or group that uses these tactics claim a moral high ground regardless of their other beliefs?
At its heart, White Chamber is about the blurring lines between good and evil. How our perception of them shift depending on who is committing the acts in question. And how, sometimes, neither side of a conflict are entirely good.
Unfortunately, White Chamber has a few moments where it loses its edge and feels somewhat predictable. Once the initial mystery starts to be resolved it loses some of its effectiveness. And the speech mostly delivered directly at the camera near the end is entirely too ham-fisted, even if its content is on point.
White Chamber is a good film that frustratingly could have been a much better one. It will be released to theatres and on VOD by Dark Sky Films on March 29th.