What Lies Within The Chamber of Terror (PANIC) Will Make You Roll Your Eyes
Title: The Chamber of Terror
First Non-Festival Release: TBD
Director: Michael Periera
Writer: Michael Periera
Runtime: 94 Minutes
Starring: Timothy Paul McCarthy, Jessica Vano, Sigourney McAuley
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
This film’s review was written after its screening at the Panic Film Festival in 2022.
The operations of a powerful mob family are in danger due to the meddling of macho man Nash Carothers (Timothy Paul McCarthy). Daughter Ava (Jessica Vano) is running operations of their torture chamber while her younger brother Tyler (Seth O’Shea) remains missing. The specter of her overbearing father (Robert Nolan) haunts Ava as she leads a team of hapless grunts into kidnapping Carothers so they can torture him together. The stakes raise higher when they realize they have been made and that the consequences for their actions will be a visit from a powerful supernatural entity from their past.
Strained one liners and listless action punctuate the unfunny horror comedy in The Chamber of Terror.
It must be stated that The Chamber of Terror is not meant for me. It is supposed to be a brash horror comedy but unfortunately it comes off more irritating than spooky or humorous. Its story centers around the latest kidnapping committed by a notorious crime boss family and their torture chamber, which is turned into a haunted playground by a deceased victim of the mob. This cool setup is destroyed by the litany of confounding choices made to make it as much of a throwback to gritty action horror films of the past. Instead, this interminably slow-moving B-movie is dragged down by poor comedic timing and a meandering plot.
From the get-go, its writing gets lost in a barrage of flashy ideas. The choice to inject an obscene number of choppy and lightly relevant flashbacks is misguided but even more so because they add little to the film that more creative writing could cover or explain. Some smart dialogue or subtle camera tricks could easily get the same idea across without sidetracking the audience on uninteresting side quests.
Expecting that much from the script is hard given the lack of imagination put into the dialogue. There are only so many times one can toss in the word ’fuck’ before it starts to lose its meaning and starts to be reminiscent of a pre-teenager learning what are and how to use curse words for the first time. This bleeds into the reception of nearly every character onscreen and thus souring their relationship to the viewer.
Given that The Chamber of Terror is a horror comedy, it is fair to sacrifice some of the characters for the needs of the film. The problem lies in how two dimensional every person is despite opportunities for real development. Whatever little character development is afforded them feels cheap and unearned. Interactions and reactions are more often spun for the set-up of a perceivably “cool” action sequence or one liner rather than consistently molding the story and its players in an authentic manner.
What’s worse is the entire cast struggles to sell the ridiculous script. Most egregiously, the delivery of the comedic lines falls flat and makes for unconvincing characters. It is hard to lay the blame solely on the actors considering the depths of the failures lie in the awkwardly worded lines and confusing nature of how the scenes play out. Timothy Paul McCarthy is given the impossible task of making Nash’s eye-rolling dialogue feel authentic despite its poor inception.
Every now and then the film will get visually interesting. Bright neon colors splash across the scene to appeal to 80s nostalgia. The set itself is dull and myopic. A torture chamber run by a mob has endless possibilities to be scary or exciting. Instead, it just looks like a poorly dressed up scene in a below average carnival ride. Thankfully, they employ some solid yet hokey practical effects to brighten the day of gore hounds.
This film simply isn’t for me. The Chamber of Terror appeals to viewers who are invested in nostalgia for a specific type of 80s film and that is not meant as a dig or dismissal. It is always exciting to see indie horror makers go out there and accomplish a vision in their head that they believe will be well-received. For horror comedies, that is even more herculean of a task. Regardless, its attempts at both horror and comedy make little impact in the end. Its story is weak, the dialogue cringeworthy, and it is a tonal mess. I may not have enjoyed my visit to The Chamber of Terror, but that doesn’t mean you will too.
Overall Score? 3.5/10