They do manage to maintain a downbeat, claustrophobic mood and make some interesting use of the Southwestern desert locations, which might have been enough to sustain the B-grade feature “Chambers” should have been. The echoes of Japanese horror and “Rosemary’s Baby” would be more enjoyable if you didn’t have so much time to think about them.
It’s hard to enjoy the ambience, though, because the supernatural elements are presented in such a plodding, matter-of-fact and eventually giggle-inducing manner. The scare shots — bloody-mouthed coyote in the hospital corridor, dead girl with green stuff coming out of her mouth, eviscerated rats — arrive with a dull clockwork regularity, and the characters, including Sasha, don’t seem particularly frightened by the weird goings-on, just irritated and stressed.
There isn’t much in this cardboard construction for actors to work with, and Goldwyn and Uma Thurman, as the dead girl’s parents, are distinctly underutilized. Thurman has some nice moments when her character’s sympathy for Sasha comes out, but her performance is mostly nervous tics and grimaces, a constant state of low panic.
Rose, a young actress raised on an Apache reservation, is given a little more to play as she moves between the Native and white worlds, and she makes Sasha a credible, likable heroine. Kyanna Simone Simpson, as Sasha’s levelheaded best friend, prods the show into life whenever she’s onscreen, and Lili Taylor is a welcome presence in a small part as doyenne of a creepy Aquarian healing center.
Watching “Chambers,” you can see various better shows it might have been — an entertaining supernatural murder mystery with Sasha as an intrepid Native American Nancy Drew, or a trippy, surrealist comedy (which would have made more use of Sasha’s uncle’s business, an exotic-fish store in the desert called Wet Pets). It’s too bad no one ordered a screenplay transplant.