Review: Four Scientists Try to Save Mankind in Heady TANGENT ROOM  

Swedish (English language) science fiction film Tangent Room is a cerebral thriller that takes place inside a locked room from which there is no escape. Relying on suspense from its characters needing to solve a problem before time runs out rather than being a special effects showcase, the film is a smart, sleek puzzler that offers up a unique, claustrophobic viewing experience.

Scientists Carol (Jennifer Lila), Kate (Vee Vimolmal), Sandra (Lisa Bearpeak), and David (Hakan Julander) receive mysterious invitations — hearkening back to classic old dark house thrillers — from well-respected recluse Dr. Wahlstein (Daniel Epstein). They meet at a small room in a remote astronomical facility in Chile’s Atacama Desert. A video featuring a self-proclaimed now-dead Wahlstein tells the group that they must solve a puzzle using numbers within four hours or they will all die, and mankind will perish. The room is locked, with electrified doorknobs, and the members of the quartet realize that even though they have no idea what the problem is they are supposed to solve, they need to work together to get it done, or perish.

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Tangent Room uses theories based on hard science such as astrophysics, quantum mechanics, string theory, and Conformal Cyclic Cosmology (CCC), with dialogue driving the narrative. This approach may be a bit alienating for some viewers, but writer/director Bjorn Engstrom wrings a surprising amount of suspense and tension from this method, and occasional humor also lightens up the mood. The screenplay, which could easily be adapted to a stage play, relies on the cooperation and conflict between each of the characters, and the proceedings get a bit nuttier — in a good way — in the third act. The five ensemble cast members are definitely up to the task of bringing these characters to life.

With a runtime of 65 minutes, Tangent Room keeps things flowing at a smooth, snappy pace, rewarding viewers with a smart science-fiction story bolstered by solid acting.