It’s the near future and, in post-Brexit Britain, bloody civil war rages between the fascistic, totalitarian government and the equally brutal rebel militia, the poor and dispossessed trapped between them.

A woman (Shauna Macdonald) wakes to find herself imprisoned in a seamless white room (the titular White Chamber). A distorted, disembodied voice (Oded Fehr) offers her food, water, begins to question her, interrogate her, punish her, the room itself the instrument of her torture, her captor raising and lowering the temperature in the room, showering her with water, dripping acid on her.

His demands are simple; he wants to know who she is, her role in the state’s apparatus. She claims she’s a humble admin assistant, that she knows nothing of the true nature of the facility where she works, where she now finds herself imprisoned. But is she telling the truth? And just who is holding her; the state or the rebels?

To say any more would ruin the ruin the pleasures White Chamber offers. Drawing on the likes of Cube, Black Mirror and the Saw movies, writer/director Paul Raschid makes the most of his meagre budget to deliver a chilling vision of a near-future dystopian Britain, framing White Chamber’s central examination of the politics and ethics of torture as a psychological battle of wills between prisoner and captor.

With a script that is, at times, clunky, characters delivering chunks of exposition as well as political rhetoric, White Chamber benefits from a talented and eclectic cast, The Descent’s Shauna Macdonald showing steel and vulnerability as the ambiguous captive while Oded Fehr is charming and menacing in equal measure as the charismatic rebel leader. There’s strong support too from Amrita Acharia as a rookie scientist plagued by doubts and her own humanity while Nicholas Farrell lends his older scientist a world-weary paternalism.

While White Chamber is visually impressive and the film’s first act rattles along at a cracking pace, it sags in the middle, dissipating much of the tension and paranoia it worked so hard to build with a scene-setting flashback and the film becomes increasingly reliant on plot twists that range from the obvious to the “Seriously? That’s where you’re going with this?”

Working best as a roadmap of the path Britain may already be travelling as a society, White Chamber offers a vision of Britain that feels just a nudge away.

Arrow Video Frightfest Review: White Chamber
2.5Overall Score
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