Infinity Chamber (2017) Review
Infinity Chamber is a 2017 sci-fi thriller about a man trapped in an automated prison who must outsmart a computer in order to escape and try and find his way back to the outside world that may already be wiped out.
Sci-fi has for a long time been defined more by its action than its themes, with even the likes of Star Wars and Star Trek – once genre-creating films – relying far more on chaotic set-pieces than narrative complexity to drive their plots. Few titles these days offer much in terms of any challenge so it’s refreshing to find something that comes along to trip up expectations. Such is the case with Travis Milloy‘s Infinity Chamber, a complex, ingenious Indie gem with plenty of tricks up its sleeve. I’m a sucker for this stuff.
Waking in a sterile, metallic room after getting zapped in the back at a coffee shop, Frank (Christopher Soren Kelly) finds himself a prisoner with no guards, aside from a remotely operated camera mounted in the center of the ceiling. The enigmatic and strangely calming voice coming through that camera calls himself Howard (Jesse D. Arrow), offering few answers as to where and why Frank is locked up, though does provide food and exercise if required. He learns that Howard is actually a highly-advanced computer that is programed to keep him alive during ‘processing’, though that term is not clearly defined. Meanwhile, Frank experiences frighteningly real flashbacks, which include Gabby (Cassandra Clark), the coffee shop barista with whom he develops a romance … and some ideas for an escape. Meanwhile, Frank settles in with a series of deep conversations with Howard about the meaning of life and the role of man versus machine, slowly enlisting the computer’s help in getting answers.
Infinity Chamber is set in a near future and while the film is undeniably local, there is a global presence to it, one that is tied to a subplot about a rebellion against an authoritative power, however this is Frank’s story, one that slowly begins to unravel as time goes by, convincing himself that what is happening is even worse than he expects. While he’s forced to relive the same day over and over, the interrogation machine in his cell searching his brain for a crime he allegedly committed, this is not a retread of Groundhog Day. That film is an existential comedy about personal growth. Infinity Chamber is a dark fantasy with perhaps less ambiguous pursuits, however no less impactful.
Milloy, who also wrote the screenplay, manages to squeeze much from the small scale and mostly single set film, reminding me of Park Chan-wook‘s iconic Old Boy, similarly about a man trapped in a single room. We become invested in the routine of Frank’s daily existence and recognize the dramatic psychological stages he passes through, from anger to acceptance, leading to his singular goal of escape, a plan that hinges on a very clever rouse, one, if viewers are watching carefully, might pick up on very early. Getting to it is where the film reveals all its secrets, and as Howard and the cell begins to break down, a terrifying new reality gives it even more urgency. We, like Frank, grow to mistrust what we see, and that ambiguity makes for a trippy second half.
Infinity Chamber is a sleek, smart thriller that does offer an explanation of what’s happening when it reaches its end, though we are meant to – no, programmed to at this point – to question that very resolution. Milloy toys with reality from the start, and inserts moments that tests just how faithful we should be to the interpretation offered, especially with a brief image of Gabby that will have your head spinning. This is terrific storytelling, one that puts a lot of trust in the audience, something that happens all too infrequently in movies. Highly recommended.
Infinity Chamber (2017) Review
Movie description: Infinity Chamber is a 2017 sci-fi thriller about a man trapped in an automated prison who must outsmart a computer in order to escape and try and find his way back to the outside world that may already be wiped out.
Director(s): Travis Milloy
Actor(s): Christopher Soren Kelly, Cassandra Clark, Chuck Klein