Netlfix has been making it a habit recently of quietly releasing outstanding content. Earlier this month it was Mercy Black and now only a few weeks later it’s Chambers. Now, I’m not usually a fan of TV series, I feel if you can’t deliver your message in 120 minutes or less then I probably don’t want to hear it. Not to say that there aren’t great series out there, but they are few and far between. I’m not a big fan of movies that hold your hand and give you every detail, leaving nothing to the imagination and this is basically the MO of a series as they need to take a premise and stretch it over 10 hours, too often they get watered down, predictable or down right ridiculous. This isn’t the case with Chambers, it’s a tight tangled web of a series that keeps you guessing to the very end.
Co-starring Uma Thurman. Wait, what? You would think a show with Uma Thurman and episodes directed by Ti West would have been marketed as the next big thing, but it wasn’t. I think the reason is because this thing is so bizarre. Before I discuss anything about this show I must talk about Uma Thurman. Why and how hasn’t she been in more horror movies? She is a fantastic actress who can really portray a sense of dread and fear. She really amplifies this show as she chews up every scene she is in and when she gets freaked out, it makes you freaked out as it seems so real. With that out of the way, let’s jump into this bizarre show.
Chambers follows the story of a Native American girl named Sasha in rural Arizona who suffers a heart attack. Luckily, they quickly find a donor in Becky, a girl who committed suicide from an affluent family in the Burbs. The wealthy family, who’s matriarch is played by Uma Thurman, reach out to Sasha and offer her a scholarship at a prestigious school and a Prius. And this is where things start to get weird.
Sasha starts having visions of Becky, her memories, her fears and is terrified that there may be some residual cellular memory of Becky’s whose heart which has been transplanted into her. The series combines aspects of the supernatural as it is uncertain if there is the ghost of Becky haunting Sasha, a murder mystery as events surrounding Becky’s death and her parent’s motivations become unclear, there is a psychological horror aspect as at times its uncertain if everything bizarre is real or just a prescription drug induced hallucination. The series includes a cult of new age mystics who handle spirit crystals and perform ritualistic breathing exercises and finally it dives into psychedelics like Ayahuasca and DMT. It also involves a lot of Native American folklore and symbolism which other than Wolfen I do not recall any horror movies with such a heavy Native American influence or any at all and it’s great to see.
The creator and main writer, Leah Rachel, who hasn’t done much before this, really kills it with Chambers. The series has so many twists and turns it’s insane. There are so many story lines that raise questions, throw you off the trail of where the story is going, introduce different horror elements and intersect and interact with each other making the big picture of the series extremely beautiful and well put together. Most of the episodes are directed by relatively unknown directors, but two of them are directed by Ti West. One of which is probably the best of the series, episode 8 “Heroic Dose” which for those who don’t know is a term for a life changing and altering dose of psilocybin mushrooms. The episode is as mind warping and reality bending as you would expect for one named after such a trip.
As I touched on briefly before, this show has a little bit of everything, we have ghosts, a possession, a Native American medicine man, a woman who appears to be telekinetic, a creepy cult, a shape-shifting transformation and a considerable amount of gore which for a low budget and 80’s horror junkie like me was refreshing. Horror television tends to rely upon slow burn and atmosphere, Chambers does as well but there is enough gore and jump scares to keep it interesting for folks with a short attention span like me.
Overall, Chambers is a mind-bending trip to the edge of insanity and back again. Outstanding predominately all female cast including a fantastic performance by series lead Sivan Alyra Rose who this appears to be her first formal role. Kyanna Simone Simpson as Sasha’s best friend who has the most interesting collection of earrings I’ve ever seen. Lili Taylor, who played the mother in The Conjuring, who portrays a creepy cult member who participates in bumble bee breathing. And finally, Tony Goldwyn, yeah, the bad guy from Ghost, who plays the creepy yoga father Ben.
Chambers is a great series! I’m very excited to see what comes next from the show’s creator and some of the directors of these episodes. 5 stars easily.
NSFW and Young viewers warning: It’s worth noting there is a considerable amount of nudity, especially in the first episode, which I don’t recall seeing in other Netflix series. Just a heads up if you planned on watching this in a public place or where little eyes can see.
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