Tag Archives: soundtrack

Film Review – The Chamber (2016)

Tension is the name of the game in this low-budget survival thriller from debut writer/director Ben Parker which premièred at last year’s Frightfest. The film opens with news reports that the nation of North Korea is becoming increasingly hostile, and has successfully test-launched ballistic missiles in an act of ‘clear provocation,’ conveniently playing on our newly-instilled suspicion of Kim Jong Un’s lot. Once it was the Russians, now it seems as though the North Koreans are the ones we should be scared of.

chamber

With every other country in the world uniting in panic, an American special ops team led by the pragmatic Alice Edwards (Charlotte Salt) enlist the help of a research vessel in the Yellow Sea to help them complete a mysterious ‘mission.’ The research vessel is equipped with a submersible craft called the Aurora (yep, the ‘chamber’) reluctantly piloted by Mats (Johannes Kuhnke) which is dispatched to search for something. The special ops team won’t say what they are looking for, which is helpful, and as you can probably imagine doesn’t make for a good working relationship with the poor civilian roped into doing their dirty work for them.

All this is compounded when the mother ship is boarded by the North Korean navy, leaving them stranded hundreds of meters beneath the surface. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, a serious error of judgement leaves them upside down on the ocean floor letting in water. Don’t ask.

Random dialogue extract:

A: That wasn’t part of the plan.

B: The plan’s coming loose.

A: You’re coming loose.

All the action takes place on board a tiny submarine, so you naturally get that icky sense of, creeping, claustrophobic dread, which is just as well because the military espionage-based plot is wafer-thin, and seriously lacking any of the twists and turns that usually make this kind of film worth watching. Instead, you get an insanely improbable love angle. Because when you’re trapped in a tiny submarine on the ocean floor facing certain death, everyone gets the horn. Don’t they? There are, however, a few shocks toward the end, and eventually justice is seen to be done. Kind of.

Another point of interest is that Manic Street Preacher James Dean Bradfield did the musical score. It’s not exactly Motorcycle Emptiness, more of a dark, sinister plod, but it’s still pretty effective. Bradfield’s appearance isn’t a complete surprise, given that the movie was filmed in Pencoed rather than the Yellow Sea and was produced in association with Ffilm Cymru Wales, making it possibly the first ever underwater thriller made in the Principality. Something tells me it might also be the last.

The original version of this review can be found in the free Morpheus Tales supplement.


Film Review – Vinyl

In February 2004 Mike Peters’ revamped Alarm line-up released a new single, 45 RPM. It was a spiky, anthemic offering, reminiscent of the original Alarm’s early-eighties glory years. Problem was, that’s not very cool, is it? At least in the eyes of the music industry who tend to judge more on looks and image than talent and ability. That prompted Mike Peters to put the single out under the fictitious name The Poppy Fields, complete with a glossy MTV-friendly video performed by a group of carefully-selected 18-year old stand-ins.

The Alarm - 45 RPM

The Alarm – 45 RPM

The single was a hit, entering the UK singles chart at number 27 and creating a huge media buzz. In true rocker fashion Peters then blew the whole thing wide open, including his reasons for doing perpetrating the hoax, live on Radio 1. When revealed, the story went international, the publicity breathing new life into the Alarm and leaving a lot of people with egg on their faces. The song became most widely recognized for exposing the rampant ageism within the music industry. It was soon agreed that the story behind the single would make a great film. It took almost a decade for that to happen, but finally… it has.

For the movie version of this real-life Great Rock n’ Roll Swindle, Phil Daniels (Quadrophenia) is fantastic as washed-up rocker Johnny Jones, ex of made-up punk band Weapons of Happiness who, after a drunken recording session, attempt a comeback. However, their efforts fall on deaf ears and are met only with derision from record company bosses who no longer see them or their music as relevant. That forces them to go out an recruit a bunch of good-looking teenagers to be the public face of the group and mime to tunes performed by the original Weapons of Happiness. The young pretenders, given the name the Single Shots, soon find fame.

Vinyl movie poster

Vinyl movie poster

During auditions for the new ‘fake’ band singer meets a young upstart called Drainpipe (played by the excellent Jamie Blackley), and a cross-generational friendship flourishes. As the story progresses old tensions within the original group about who broke up the original band and why begin to surface, and Johnny Jones is forced into a fair amount of soul-searching. At times the film lapses into classic British comedy caper territory, but as it’s set against the breathtaking backdrop of north Wales, and boasts a great original soundtrack, with no small measure of true punk spirit, that is forgiveable.

Free Rock n’ Roll.

Vinyl is out on DVD now


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