15th Mar2019

‘Tangent Room’ VOD Review

by Chris Thomas

Stars: Lisa Bearpark, Daniel Epstein, Håkan Julander, Jennifer Lila, Vee Vimolmal | Written and Directed by Björn Engström

tangent-room-art

We are currently living in a world of “alternative facts” and “fake news.” A film with the premise of saving all existence by using hard science and facts is then, very appealing to me (even if the science itself is complete nonsense, a dum dum like me doesn’t know any better).

Is time linear? Is “here” the same as “there”? “Does Keanu Reeves know kung-fu?” In a little over an hour Tangent Room is looking to answer these questions (well at least the first two)

We quickly get set up with four arrogant scientist / academic types in an old room with an old blackboard and between them they need to use science to save their lives and maybe even more besides.

Still with me?

They have been locked in a room together by the elusive scientist Wallstein who only one of them has met in person. Wallstein has created a polite version of a “game” from Saw. Wallstein pops up at times and does his best Einstein impression.

Firstly, I like the set up. of Tangent Room I also like 4 characters being largely confined to a small room to slowly unravel a mystery. These films can be cheap to make and assuming the acting and mystery are good it is possible to make a great little film with few compromises. The puzzle is laid out by a mysterious scientist who seems to make the task needlessly confusing and convoluted. This causes our scientists to firstly focus on trying to escape rather than buckling down to the task at hand.

What is the best way of forcing academics to work together to save existence? Is it by locking them up and electrocuting them while giving them deeply confusing clues or is it better to give them a crate of Evian, a few bottles of wine, some cheese-based dish and access to a working lavatory?

Fundamentally then we have 4 actors, some of which are decent, and others are a bit hammy. The camera work is simple but competent and the music is unobtrusive and fits the film well. The movie does however look a little like it was filmed on a mid-range Android smartphone.

A stumbling point for this film is, who is this film for? Most people are likely to be put off by the science and people who are interested and knowledgeable about such matters as quantum physics are likely to be very frustrated by how wrong the film gets it.

During the film (during the “science” bits) we keep getting people drawing circles in chalk and every now and again we get a failed Gantt chart of 2 circles next to each other (I noticed it might be a reference to the infinity symbol, perhaps I am not such a dum dum after all! Be still my beating heart).

The short run time means Tangent Room does not overstay its welcome. But on the other hand, this is not a full feature film. While the movie does have a micro budget, it does remind me of the Canadian sci fi horror Cube, which suddenly I would be keen to re-watch. Also, while we are drawing circles with pencils… Event Horizon was a brilliant film, anyone that told you otherwise was engaging in fake news.

As a proof of concept to get a few careers started in the industry this is perfectly decent but in and of itself I am not sure who I could recommend this to. It is competently made but I am not sure who the target market is. As Tangent Room progresses an important concept is characters “glitching” and unfortunately this quickly becomes frustrating, jarring and ruins the pace of the film. I can’t help but think there was a better way of getting this concept across without killing the pace of the film stone dead time after time (and it happens a LOT). The last 10 minutes are sadly difficult to watch for this reason and are extremely distracting at a time we are really, really supposed to be listening to the what our characters are telling us. It all becomes a horrible, glitching jumble. I must confess, I was disappointed, it was building to something but then the film maker’s story telling technique fails them and we go back into lecture mode.

What happened to our four characters? We were told repeatedly they could die, or they could save themselves… as a piece of film making it is inexcusable to set up stakes and then bore us to death at the end while leaving absolutely everything unresolved.

The most important question I took from this film is “now I am adding salt to my pre salted tortillas have I crossed a line?”
______

Post script… I feel like I must have missed something crucial at the end (but the screener I have has now expired)

Tangent Room is available on iTunes, Xbox, Google Play and Amazon Prime now.

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