Infinity Chamber Is a Fantastic Closed Box Mindjob
Infinity Chamber Is a Fantastic Closed Box Mindjob - wherein we regress deeper into the mind of a entrapped prisoner as he struggles to break free.
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Infinity Chamber Is a Fantastic Closed Box Kafka-esque Mindjob

I’m on record as being one of seven people that adores closed box movies. Better known as plays on film. Why? Because they deal with ideas over special effects. They deal with dialogue over super powers. I love closed box movies because your screenplay author is guaranteed to have a clue how to fill 90 minutes of movie that most movies with special effects do not know how to fill. Well, Infinity Chamber is one of those movies wherein the screenplay author, Travis Milloy, definitely knows how to fill 100 minutes of your life in an extremely thorough and well thought out way.  So why don’t we dive into why Infinite Chamber is a fantastic closed box Kafka-esque mindjob?

If you have not seen the movie yet, consider watching Infinity Chamber here. Or heck, consider rewatching it! Hahah. And if you do, you’ll be lending a hand with keeping this site going. So thanks for that in advance.

Infinity Chamber literally is a modern version of Franz Kafka’s novel The Trial, wherein a man is told that he has committed crimes, but not what they are. In Infinity Chamber, Frank Learner (Franz Kafka – Frank? No? Am I reaching?) has been detained, but isn’t told why. He also has amnesia of some sort and can’t remember really how he got there or much about his life before being brought to detention. Infinity Chamber is all about Frank, attempting to learn how he got there, and get out if he can manage it.

High Level Infinity Chamber Walkthrough

Frank Learner is trapped. He doesn’t 100% know the full extent of his entrapment, but he’s trapped. He hasn’t been told his crime, or suspicion of a crime. He’s not been given a reason for his detainment. And the one person that knows he’s been imprisoned… isn’t a person at all. And as Frank begins to learn more and more about his predicament (see what I did there? Frank Learner? Is learning? Haha!) the more he begins to grasp the severity of his problem.

And as the story slowly advances, and our understanding grows, most of our real learning comes from Frank flashing backwards to his life before his detainment. We see a world in trouble and at war. We see security forces rooting out rebels. We hear about the risk and the threat of war.

Infinity Chamber Howard Conversation

One of the most compelling elements of Infinity Chamber is conversation between Frank and his LSO, his Life Support Operator. His LSO’s name is Howard. At first, (literally the first 20 minutes) the conversation is between Frank and a guy behind a security camera that is required to keep Frank alive and make sure that he is processed. And then he realizes that Howard is a computer program, and not a person at all. These conversations are pretty good, and it intrigues me that a screenwriter can take a closed box situation like this one, and imbue it with enough heft and meaning so as to be interesting. I mean, tabula rasa? It’s amazing to me. But it is a big part of the reason why this film works. That and the fact that there are layers and layers of recursive meaning.

Infinity Chamber And “The Device” Discussed

Eventually, the power shuts down. And with the power, goes Howard. But the place of Howard is replaced by a cellmate next door named Fletcher May. Fletcher, it would appear, is the head of the resistance group to the ISN. The rebels have been looking for ways to take down the ISN. To revolt. And Fletcher said that his plan was to hit the power supplies in order to cause the entire system to come crashing down.

As Frank and Fletcher continue to talk, one of the most important revelations is that the spinning device in the cell is attempting to hack into their consciousness. Trying to get at a secret, or some sort of information. And the only way to keep that from them is to hide the information in a common story, or memory. But to alter the memory just a little bit so that as the device scans through their neural network, it is always ending up in the right house, but always the wrong room.

Which, creates a problem for us, the viewer. If “The Device” is able to scan and trace neural pathways, to visit, and revisit rooms of memory… could this entire movie be one big memory dance between the ISN and Frank? Huh. Interesting thought. We should keep an eye on that…

Gabby’s Ongoing Conversation with Frank

As Frank sleeps, at least in the beginning anyway, he has this recurring memory of starting his day, and then going to a coffee shop to talk with the owner, named Gabby. Each encounter is basically the same, as we learn new details the more we repeat the encounter. Eventually we learn that each time someone buys something in the shop, the ISN scans the room, ISN security comes in, tasers Frank, and he awakens back in his cell again. Then the power goes out, and it seems as is if Gabby remembers him. Something has progressed in the dream state.

And somewhere around the hour mark, we get a montage of recurring days, and they culminate with Gabby and Frank ambushing the two agents. But Frank realizes that the agents don’t know anything. They are only in his memory anyway. But Gabby and Frank’s relationship continues progressing. Their knowledge of the problem is progressing. They have begun charting and tracking and logging everything.  And Howard’s reset intervals? They are becoming shorter and shorter, and so Frank decides today is the day that they make a big move against Howard.

So Frank uses one of these resets to put a bag over Howard’s head, and then escape when the robot comes in to make sure Frank is OK.

The External Excursions of Infinity Chamber

In excursion #1 – Frank escapes out of a manhole portal that rests on the desert floor. Frank finally crosses the desert to a road, and then over to a gas station. And there in the gas station, to his horror, he sees Gabby’s photographs on the wall, and the normal coffee shop music playing. And he wakes back in the detention center all over again.

In excursion #2 – After waking back in the chamber, Howard asks if Frank would like to have coffee. And Frank responds with, ‘There is no coffee.’ Indicating that Frank believes that even the chamber is in his own mind. That the cell isn’t even real. That Frank was a part of the alliance… not only that, but Frank was the one that built the virus that would crash the whole system. In the second escape, Frank attempts suicide, only to survive, and escape back out through the door again. Frank makes it to the control panel for Howard, and he shuts him down. He then heads out through the manhole cover again, only to find snow… and mountains. He finds himself being rescued by two other hikers.

Literal Theory to Explain Infinity Chamber

The movie gives a number of possible threads that we can follow to explain this movie. The literal theory utilizes the ending wrap up details to come to a conclusion of what happened. Basically, Frank was a member of a 300 person elite forced that was captured and trapped in a detention facility. All of these facilities were black ops centers operated off the radar, and sustained through wind turbine power. All the other detainees were found dead when the locations were searched after Frank was released.

Literal Theory to Explain Infinity Chamber Redux

Redux assumes that the literal theory is correct. The only significant change being? He actually didn’t escape with his last run through the snow and the mountains. Right? Who’s to say that Gabby (aka Madelyn, apparently we’ve had her name wrong all along?) and Frank are not going to snap out of their beginning introductions the moment he buys coffee again? Sure, we got a little more backstory about the 300 insurgents… but that is just The Device being ultra clever in its hunting down for the virus. Think about it, why was the thumb drive behind the photograph? Why did he know anything at all about Gabby? (Or that Gabby ever worked there?) Better yet? How could he envision a real place from the confines of his mind-cell if he had never been there. Just the fact alone that he got all those details right basically proves he hasn’t escaped to freedom.

Life Support Theory Explaining Infinity Chamber

Another thread that runs through Infinity Chamber is the idea that not all things should be modernized and automated. When Frank tells this to Howard, he gives him a story about his father to explain his point. His father, apparently, lived 4 years past when he had made his peace, but a machine was put in place to keep him alive.

This theory believes that Frank isn’t military personnel, trapped in an underground bunker. But rather, Frank is dying. Frank is just continuing to struggle with the idea that he should have died several years ago. But instead, he fights and looks for a way to get out of his eternal torment against his will.

The gorgeousness of this theory? It could include the previous two theories with one simple tweak. What if the LSO (Life Support Officer) is actually capable of injecting thoughts into the patients mind to keep them docile and active. This is a new form of entertainment. The ability to play mental spy games in your mind? And not only that, but it keeps these patients from understanding what is really happening to them… and that is? Dying.

The Kafka Parable of Infinity Chamber Theory

What about a theory that ditches the past three theories entirely? What if Infinity Chamber is just a modern day retelling of Kafka’s The Trial? If you are unfamiliar with The Trial, it’s a simple enough narrative to understand – if a highly complicated philosophical idea. Basically K is informed he is in trouble with the state, and the police. He learns he will be heading to trial, but is never informed as to why, for what. And Kafka has done an amazing job in absolutely avoiding discussing specific charges throughout the entirety of the book. While discussing his culpability with the Judge, the police, random people… the specific charges never are addressed. And even when K is executed, we are still wondering.

And hold on, K doesn’t even get a trial! The book is mainly one big bureaucratic delay after bureaucratic delay. The book is filled with K’s ruminations on justice, totalitarianism, art, love, but we get next to nothing on why he is going to be on trial. And all the while, K begins to admit various and sundry crimes to himself… and starts to come around on his own guilt. Which, in my opinion, was the story of the novel. I’ve done nothing, to – I might have done something, to – yeah, definitely, I am 100% guilty. And really with that, and without a trial, K is marched to a quarry outside of town by two men that seem to be heading to the opera for the evening.

Which, brings us back Infinity Chamber. Frank is locked up, without any indication of why. He is held without any human interaction. And he is subjected to persistent and constant interrogations that he isn’t even informed of. We eventually learn that Frank may very well have been a member of an uprising that was attempting to overthrow the current government. And so we are doing better at least than K did. But still, it is the discussion of the government abilities to infringe on our rights without any sort of due process. Or maybe he’s just trapped in a life support system. Who knows?

Final Thoughts on Infinity Chamber

I watched this movie over a year ago. It had just come out. And I quickly ran to do a review and discussion of it. Only problem? I was in the middle of a big upgrade for the site, and mid-transition, I lost the review. It was up for about a week, and then was gone. (Almost like a scene straight out of the movie! Gah!) But this time, when I went back to the film, just to grab a few reminders of how the plot goes, I ended up rewatching it from the beginning, without skipping a moment. Now, you have to understand, that that is very very rare for me. So I must have really enjoyed the unfolding story that evolved and grew along the way. I enjoyed the dialog and the ducking and weaving of this really evasive story. And to this day, I still don’t know which theory I would go with if pressed. I’m thinking that he definitely isn’t free. And I tend to believe that maybe he is dying, and being tended to by a life support program of some sort. But I don’t know. Theory 2 doesn’t explain the real world section of the movie. But theory three does. So yeah, I’m guessing that is what I would go with if pushed.

But I don’t know, what other theories can you come up with from the film? There have got to be more that could explain this layered and multifaceted film!

Edited by, CY

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11 Responses

  1. Taylor Holmes

    Sorry Freestone.
    The site has actually been up and down all day. The hosting has been glitching seriously. Very sorry sir. Definitely owe you one. Hopefully you give it another go on the next movie you find worth commenting about. But I can relate! Nothing like having technology eat your inspired thoughts!!

    Anyway take care…. see you next time.

  2. freestone wilson

    Well now….

    After finally watching this movie on the amazon rental. I have my own thoughts.
    [spoiler alert!]

    He is shot by the agents, after he hides the flash drive behind the mountain photo. He is in very critical condition, or in an induced coma. The authorities then try to induce false imaginative memories into his brain.
    [imagine him wired to a skull cap with electrodes. They can create memories for him. Obviously they want to know where the drive is.]
    These memories must correspond, apparently, to his condition and his times, thus he sees he is in a cell and he visits in memory this same cafe over and over as the agents seem to think that the drive is hidden there someplace.
    His father before him was on life support and was taken off by him. This seemingly side-story is part of the film plot. Everything in the movie is part of the plot; has meaning, literal or symbolic.

    He tries to escape the support system and the memory-inducer has it to have him imagine he tries to break out of the cell. The memory-creator makes sure that his first escape is false. That is…..he tries to stop the life support operation that he is under, to escape the authorities and to escape his own condition, to die.
    [like the prisoner next cell over, dies by his own hands.]

    He pulls the plug on the system. He succeeds in stopping the life support system.

    He is now dead.

    Snow. In many dreams and in symbols, a snow scene symbolizes death state. There is nothing living and the pure white of heaven is the only reality. No leaves, no life.

    He takes with him into the afterlife, his mental baggage including of course the false memories injected into him!

    The man with the cap! Somehow I think this cap is central to the entire film! I read that this is a Real cap, a cap that commemorates the 150 years of the mayo clinic. LSO. “Lso” looks like “150”.
    Somehow that number is important.
    [figure that number out and then maybe you will then know who and what the Operators are, the Life Support Operators!!]
    In the afterlife one is Greeted. By an angel, yes. More likely though, a deceased relative that died before him. The old man with the cap!
    For a moment in the movie I thought that this man was his father, now dead and long off of life support! Now I think so: the rescue man was indeed his father. Come with an angel to help him get adjusted to his afterlife. This old man looks so much like the father on the bed!
    I have read that immediately after arriving in the afterlife, one is placed in a familiar place. The childhood home, maybe. Here though, his first afterlife “half-way house”, is that cafe. All of one’s memories come over, at least the ones immediately before dying.

    The drive is there, now useless.

    Why is the camera still there? Probably only the cafe camera but I sense that this camera scene is important to the film plot. Someone in comments says that the camera is pointed away from him.

    This camera scene has two meanings to me. One, the authorities cannot now monitor or meddle with him anymore. Camera facing away.
    Two….more Interesting: I have read this about the afterlife, from books on spirit guides. It is said that ” higher beings create worlds and scenes for beings below their level.
    [pauls third heaven, there are layers of heaven!]
    In other words other authoritative beings now create worlds, scenes, imaginations, for him. Much of his life will be Managed by these beings from now on and into eternity, and maybe they might create a life for him on earth when he reincarnates, if he does so!
    Thus the afterlife cafe is a Creation given to him, here, from his own memory bank, by the heavenly Life Support System!
    The Ultimate Manipulation, folks!! Manipulation by spirit beings and angels and demons, from the spirit planes.
    —which of course begs the Question, if my writings are true, that these beings create worlds, karma, drama, for us *here* on earth right now and even if the maker/producer of this film would disagree with this idea of mine, who is to say that he too was manipulated!
    [the entire movie was inducted into the movie maker’s head, by the Life Support Operations!]
    “Inspired art” “inspiration”. Inspired by whom and from where?!
    A spirit guide once told us, “be careful of your thoughts and feelings, often they are not your own”!
    [behold the Christian image of angels on one side of you and demons on the other side, all inspiring thoughts of evil and goodness into you!]

    So we all are under “life support operations”!


  3. freestone wilson

    hooray! my comment finally posted. good. the hell of hosting sites that go down once in a while. or maybe that you are so busy that it takes a while to moderate a comment. otherwise we all might read about casinos or work at home opportunities!

    yes, what if this entire movie was a Created Imagination, not by the movie-makers alone, but by some Outside Being or Group?! thus the outsiders would encode messages within the movie, messages and symbols that the producers did not intend to be in the movie. like that Hat cap! the “150”. interpret that number and the entire Real Plot might then appear!

    in other words, the plot that is intended by the movie-maker might not be the Plot that was given to him, he just passed along that larger plot, thinking the ideas of the movie were his own.
    I have seen this in art, a lot. I have seen this in city murals too. hidden messages….


  4. Aristotle

    I would like to suggest that this movie can be interpreted as an “origin” prequel to The Matrix. Where Frank and Gabby/Madelyn are two of the first batteries to be processed. We see Madelyn in one of the chambers. I propose that near the end, their “memories” have begun to merge and they have started to live inside The Matrix thinking it was all real.

  5. T

    Would seem the life support idea is right, and (gabby) I think is his wife wanting him to find her in the afterlife. Big jump from coffee shop to at his home mapping stuff out and a constant is her. Also the dancing in the film alone and then with her. What he is remembering is life/ memory’s and Howard is the life support. Escape is death. Maybe the key behind the picture is no longer battling to turn off the machine as he managed to die and get where he wanted to get too.
    The guy in hospital is him

  6. Ric

    Hmmm, I do think he is on life support or an induced coma. He may even have been shot with real bullets under the assumption that he still had the drive on him. I also think that Gabby and the jail cell and all his experiences are a hybrid of the machine’s input and his own imagination. Even the person controlling Howard in the beginning reflects Franks beliefs at that time. In this way Gabby was, at least in part, controlled by the computer which was implanting thoughts into Frank’s imagination. We know Frank had the drive in the morning; this detail we see early on. Perhaps the police knew he had it as well and expected to find it on him when they shot him. Or they discovered this detail themselves during an early “interrogation.” They force him to relive the day starting from the moment they know that he had the drive, up until the moment they shoot him. (You would think with his fixation on the picture they might have had ample enough suspicion to have looked there, but anyway..) When Frank finally admits his true role in the sabotage is when he has given up, and given in. This is why he shows the authorities where he has hidden the drive.

    What is up in the air is whether or not Howard A) is sentient, and B) has actually grown to love Frank. I choose to believe both. Howard seems to truly have believed that Frank was innocent, and seems hurt when he says, “You lied to me?” Howard has two prime directives, to keep Frank alive (overt), and to feed him imagery to manipulate him into revealing the location of the drive (covert). Falling in love with Frank is not forbidden. Once Howard’s primary covert objective is satisfied, he is free to continue to fulfill his overt objective of keeping Frank alive, and keeping him company (while enjoying the company of his beloved Frank.)

    It seems there were only two major players in Frank’s final day of freedom: his dying father, who he visits in the hospital, and “Gabby.” Or, perhaps the hospital scene is another day – this is not clear. He does speak about his father’s final four years of life as if he has actually already died but I do no not recall him explicitly saying so. The primary holes in this movie’s logic is that, in the interest of finding the drive we might have seen a more detailed following of Frank’s final day of freedom, at least at the beginning of the movie. If his captors somehow knew the drive was hidden in the Cafe, surely they’d have found it without needing such an elaborate form of interrogation. On the other hand, perhaps the machine (Howard) intuited Frank’s attraction for “Gabby” and chose to focus on using her as covert interrogator.

    The ending, according to the above interpretation, is bittersweet. Frank gets to live out the rest of his conscious days exploring a relationship with Howard, who truly loves him, and in a world where he is a kind of hero. But this world is an illusion: in fact Frank has failed and the world has fallen into the tightened grip of the dystopic regime which he had been fighting to topple.

    The final question is whether or not Frank realizes he has failed or not: whether his world is real or not. I think not knowing this detail is the point of the movie, and that we all may think of ourselves as Frank, not knowing whether our lives are real, or not.

  7. Ric

    I love the idea of the guy in the hospital being him. That he’s been on life support for 40 years before he finally gives away his secret. But I think that Gabby is his memory of the girl at the cafe, animated by the artificial intelligence, Howard, and that the two fall in love.

    Someone else mentioned the possibility that Madeleine is actually another AI, having replaced Howard, perhaps, somehow, which was an interesting idea as well that could warrant further thought…

  8. Brian

    Frank is on a life support system program he created and he also created a virus to stop it. He’s dealing with should he pull the plug and use the virus to stop the program. The man he see’s on the death bed is not his dad, but himself. Ultimately the system is continuously trying to trick him into forgetting because that’s what it was designed to do. He made a mistake, made a system that kept him alive and now regrets it but becomes insane as the LSO keeps changing his reality. Kinda scary, but I can see AI and AR combined to enhance a VR world created to keep someone alive from dying… in there mind via a program. Hence, he is dead but only alive through the LSO program.

  9. Reva Deutsch

    I watched this movie on your recommendation, and it was fantastic!!
    The theory that the entire movie is going on inside the mind of the old man who wishes to die fits beautifully. I think Abby/Madalyn is his wife, who is now deceased. She keeps saying that she took those pictures. Several times in the movie he finds himself confronted with the picture of the tree – representing death, but it’s just a picture meaning he didn’t really get there. At the end of the movie, he finds himself looking at the actual scene of the picture. This time it’s real (real death), or – either he or the computer deluding him into believing he finally achieved death (freedom). And when he stands out there looking at the tree, he is standing in the exact same place that Abby was standing when she took that picture, meaning that she passed this way too (when she died).
    Or did she escape from the infinity room too?? This movie has so many possibilities.
    Thanks for all the great reviews.

  10. j

    Nobody mentioned two things: The Dish Return, they clearly wanted us to notice given the bright colors. Analogous to Howard dispensing 3 flavors – and only 3. With both drinks and meals. Then the chair – when they pan back from the view of the map on the wall over his bed, notice the chair in the left corner is the same chair (seemingly) that’s in the Infinity Chamber. So yes, I believe those who say he’s in a coma or similar are correct, and that to me sends that very message just before his 1st escape. Great movie – I like the article author watched every minute of it, and I don’t usually watch movies like this. It just…works. The movie, imagery, dialog, directing…acting. The sound needs some work (vocals are garbled from Gabby in the scene prior to the escape) but overall I think there was a great deal of talent on that team.


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