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"Infinity Chamber" (2016) - Writer-Director Travis Milloy's Dystopian Science Fiction Suspense-Horror, Starring Christopher Soren Kelly

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"Infinity Chamber" (originally called "Somnio") is so new that it doesn't even have a Wikipedia entry. I'm not sure if it was even released in theaters, and it just came out on streaming video last month. There was initially an attempt to fund it on Kickstarter - if you watch the video there (which won't give much away), you'll "get to know" Writer-Director Travis Milloy, which makes me feel somewhat guilty for what I'm about to write.

This intriguing title is about an equally intriguing subject: A man wakes up with only a vague recollection of being shot, and is imprisoned by a high-tech, futuristic, fully automated "LSO" (Life-Support Operative) named "Howard," which is a self-learning computer, fully (and hilariously) reminiscent of HAL in "2001: A Space Odyssey." (Note that the diminutive of Howard would be "HOW.")

*** SPOILERS FOLLOW ***

Howard is the best and most memorable part of this film, which the LA Times correctly says is "a little too long." It's actually not only too long, but also too garbled, with an unsatisfying denouement that leaves the viewer with a "What the hell just happened" perception. There are films (such as "Inception") with deliberately ambiguous endings, but "Infinity Chamber" is more than just ambiguous - it's also perplexing, and not in a good way. I'm all-for open-ended endings, subject to interpretation, but this movie was one hell of a long ramble, not justified by the payoff.

Christopher Soren Kelly plays Frank Lerner (note the double entendre), Cassandra Clark plays the girl of his dreams, Gabby (note the double entendre), and both are just about perfect in their roles, so the acting here is quite good. Howard is a delight as the laid-back, thoughtful LSO who almost befriends Frank during the arduous time spent getting to "know" one-another. The lighting is good ... until it isn't (the film becomes one of "those" black-as-night films, which leaves the viewer squinting and guessing - they've become a fad, and I'm sick of them), the music by Jacob Yoffee fits the movie, and the angular cinematography is as good as it can be within its severe limitations. 

This all sounds wonderful, but the actual plot not only plods, but is so infuriatingly vague that the stingy reveal leaves the viewer empty. Did Frank outsmart Howard? Is it all a dream? Did he die despite the ventilator? Is he happy-ever-after? You're welcome to pick-and-choose whatever you wish, and you won't be wrong, unless there's something patently obvious that I've missed.

"Infinity Chamber" isn't a joy to sit through; it's hard work at times, and the claustrophobic set must have been the cinematographer Jason Nolte's worst nightmare, because with such a long film, and such a limited space, he simply ran out of things to try. 

As much as I don't want to say this, I just can't recommend this film to anyone except the most avid science-fiction fans - it does a lot of things right (and doesn't even come across as being low-budget), but there are just too many inherent flaws in the story and direction for talent to overcome - the irony being that I think there is some talent in writer-director Travis Milloy; it just didn't come out in this film.

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This film reminded me of so many other movies I have seen: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Inception, Total Recall, Groudhog Day, 2001 and Minority Report. In each case, the film that "Infinity Chamber" reminded me of was far superior. The acting was good, and I enjoyed the humor between Frank and Howard. But the ending felt contrived. For me, this film had potential but fell short.

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