Chambers Netflix

Courtesy of Netflix

Review: Cham­bers

Netflix’s new mindbending psychological drama stars Uma Thurman in her best role since Nymphomaniac.


A teen girl los­ing her vir­gin­i­ty is the cen­tral plot point in many teen films (see: Lit­tle Dar­lings; Cru­el Inten­tions; any­thing with Seth Rogen in it…) But in Netflix’s new teen heart­stop­per Cham­bers, it’s just the incit­ing inci­dent. The series’ main char­ac­ter Sasha decides to give it up to her boyfriend TJ. Mid-orgasm, or around there how would I know, she’s vio­lent­ly rocked by a heart attack. Her boyfriend, ter­ri­fied, rush­es her to the hos­pi­tal where she receives an emer­gency heart transplant.

She’s brought back to life, but at a cost. The donor, a dead teen named Becky, and the mys­te­ri­ous cir­cum­stances that sur­round her death, become an all-con­sum­ing obses­sion for Sasha post-recov­ery, as she increas­ing­ly sinks deep­er into her donor’s for­mer life.

Becky’s fam­i­ly – and her mom, played bril­liant­ly and fever­ish­ly by Uma Thur­man as a sweaty yoga mom (her best role since Nympho­ma­ni­ac) – offers Sasha a schol­ar­ship to send her to Becky’s for­mer pri­vate school. There, she adopts Becky’s friends, hob­bies and creepy diary. The weird esca­lates when Sasha begins hear­ing voic­es, expe­ri­enc­ing heart mur­murs and see­ing Becky in the flesh. It begs the ques­tion: is Becky real­ly all that dead?

Cham­bers, cre­at­ed by Leah Rachel, is not so much Cro­nen­ber­gian body hor­ror (though there are smat­ter­ings of it) as it is a ser­pen­tine explo­ration of what is real in death. It has ele­ments of dark­ness to it, but not in a campy Riverdale way, and each episode’s end­ing launch­es you breath­less­ly into the next. Iden­ti­ty pol­i­tics qui­et­ly under­score the series in the dis­place­ment of an indige­nous per­son – Sasha is Apache and lives on a reser­va­tion – into an afflu­ent, white world. But it doesn’t force that nar­ra­tive so much as high­light it for the view­er to digest, when he or she isn’t reel­ing from the insan­i­ty of its twist­ed plot.

Cham­bers is released on Net­flix on April 26

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