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(For Day 29 of NaPoWriMo, the prompt was to write about a scene seen through a window, so I went a bit philosophical based on this movie.)

My weak eyes caught the window
And peered into the glass
And saw my own reflection,
That transparent underclass,
Plus the view that lay behind it,
Mountains standing granite-nosed
With a forest in its orbit
And myself superimposed.
Nothing moved but my reflection,
And I wondered if I stared
Through a picture frame or window,
Something live or long since aired.

MPA rating:  Not Rated (should be PG-13, for sporadic language)

Do you ever just pick a random movie you know nothing about from the TV on-demand list based on only its name? Such independent films typically have a 50-50 shot of being either a hidden gem or a pretentious stinker, and this was one case where the former option won out, thankfully. Infinity Chamber hasn’t received much fanfare, but it’s a top-notch reality-questioning sci-fi that deserves better than obscurity.

Apparent amnesiac Frank (Christopher Soren Kelly) wakes up in a futuristic cell, and his unseen caretaker Howard (Jesse D. Arrow) informs him that he will take care of him for the foreseeable future while providing no details on why Frank is there or even where he is. I’ll throw out a spoiler warning, but it was clear right away to me that Howard was a HAL-like AI designed to sound personable, and I feared that it would take the whole film for Frank to realize that too. Yet he figures it out fairly quickly, and the real mystery instead involves the visions of Frank’s past that the room induces as a sort of lucid dream, where he repeatedly meets a barista named Gabby (Cassandra Clark) and must deduce how he came to be in his predicament and how to escape it.

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If I had to compare Infinity Chamber to another film, I would perhaps point to other minimalist human-robot pairings like Moon, I Am Mother, or Archive, but Infinity Chamber tends to leave itself open to different interpretations while still delivering a mostly satisfying end, which is not easy to pull off. The performances are good across the board, the low-budget effects are surprisingly realistic, and its themes of automated prisons and questionable memories provoke thought as all good sci-fi should. If you’re looking for something to randomly play one night, I would highly recommend it for any sci-fi fan.

Best line: (Frank, ruminating on Howard’s role for him) “My father died of heart disease. When he got sick, they put him on this machine. Kept him alive four years. Four years longer than he was supposed to live. You think that’s a gift? The man had made his peace; he was ready to go. A machine took that away from him. It trapped him in a life that wasn’t even living. Everybody’s so d*** excited: “Look what it can do!” No one stops to think, “Look what it doesn’t do.” He was the strongest man I ever met. And I’d never seen him broken. Sometimes life’s just supposed to be what it is.”

Rank:  List Runner-Up

© 2021 S.G. Liput
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