Infinity Chamber (2016)

2009 was one of the highwater marks for Science Fiction film:  the drought of SF triggered by the massive success of the Lord of the Rings trilogy ended with a sudden explosion of new films, both mainstream and independent.

One of the best of those movies was an incredible deep space horror film named Pandorum.  It proved to be one of the most viscerally frightening films I’ve ever seen: not so much because of the gore, or the creatures loose aboard the ship, but because of the intense disorientation and confusion of a crew waking to find themselves in the midst of this inexplicable crisis with no memories of who they are and no way of finding out what went wrong.

So it is more than welcome to see that Pandorum‘s screen writer, Travis Milloy, has returned with an impressive new film, Infinity Chamber.

Mind you, there is absolutely nothing in common between the two and I certainly would never had guessed the connection.

I find myself a little at a loss for words when it comes to this film.  We’re talking a complex two-player (or is that one-player?) film which immerses us in a tangle of mysteries, memories and dreams, a film which may seem familiar at times and yet lives in its own unique space.  Somehow, one expects the movie poster blurb writers to market this one as Cube meets Moon, or something equally improbable.

Although that may not be too far off the mark at that.

A man wakes up in a high-tech prison cell with no memory of how he got there.  His only companion is the voice of the tech guy, Howard, who makes sure that the cell’s systems are operational.

But he soon finds out that Howard is an AI.

The star here is Christopher Soren Kelly, one of my favorite actors, who played the lead in Jamin Winan’s remarkable sui generis fantasy film, Ink, and has appeared in every one of Jamin’s features to date as well as his wacky short, “Uncle Jack” (right now, he’s even working on his own directorial debut, The Tangle)  This is one of those roles that few actors could handle, as he spends most of the film alone in a little room and has to keep us enthralled, but he still gives us yet another impressive performance.

But then, what did you expect?

Jesse D. Arrow plays against him as the unseen voice of Howard and sounds exactly as he should, like the helpful guy you reach after an hour on the phone and four other people, who can’t actually answer any of your questions.

As you can expect from a film like this, there are twists and surprises and a lot of interesting questions.  I particularly like the way Milloy uses one recurring image of a tree, and the visual hints throughout that eventually prove to be part of the real story beneath what we’ve been told.

This film is one of those that demonstrates exactly why we need independent film.  Intelligent SF is sadly rare in Hollywood these days (although, films like Blade Runner 2049 do give us a little hope!) and it needs all the help it can get.  Thankfully, we have a few, daring filmmakers out there who are willing to work ridiculously hard to turn out films like this.

I just hope Travis Milloy will keep making films unlike this.

(My thanks to Producer Laurie Sheldon for providing a screener.  The film is now available VOD on iTunes)

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