Chariot (2013)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Chariot</strong> (2013)

(On Cable TV, December 2015) As regular readers ought to know by now, I’m a sucker for clever: I can forgive a lot of flaws in service of an intriguing high concept or a clever way to stretch a premise.  So keep that in mind in considering whether my reaction to Chariot may not be like yours.  A thriller with an ultra-low-budget reportedly in the five figures, Chariot takes place entirely aboard an airplane cabin, with very few glimpses outside.  It brings together less than a dozen strangers, who wake up on the plane wondering how they got there.  The various pieces of information they put together only raise more questions: has there been a massive nuclear strike on the United States?  Why have they been picked to survive aboard a plane flying so high above the ground?  The various mysteries, conflicts and commonalities between the characters take center-stage, making the most of a quasi-theatrical setting.  For a while, as the mysteries remain intact, Chariot remains gripping, far above other films of its budgetary class.  It’s when the answers start to be forthcoming that the film loses steam, inevitably creating more basic plausibility questions than can be reasonably satisfied.  Viewers should be warned that the ending is non-existent: By the time the film ends without having the budget to go farther, we’re left disappointed, perhaps more by the answer to its mysteries than in trying to provide an ending to a situation that can’t end satisfactorily.  Still, there is a lot to admire in what Chariot actually does manage to achieve with its budget and limitations.  Writer Eric Vale milks the most out of a limited premise; director Brad Osborne keeps things interesting despite an enclosed location, and there’s some good work by Anthony Montgomery and Michelle Sherrill in two very different roles.  Chariot falls short of earning an unqualified recommendation, but it fares better than most similar movies.  It is, at the very least, worth a look as a lesson on how to wring techno-thriller thrills out of an indie drama budget.

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