He says that is for the family he is doing it, to learn how to survive and hunt in a wilderness to support them should circumstances necessitate, but Joseph Chambers’ wife Tessa is having none of it, stopping short of begging him to reconsider but pointing out the foolishness of what he proposes, saying they moved to the safe environment of a small town for their boys rather than to become “end-of-the-world Fox News people.”
Yet Joe will not be dissuaded, his mind set on what he believes he needs to do even though his experienced friend Doug has offered to take him hunting if he waits only another week: this is something he must do alone, leaving gates open behind him and spinning the wheels of his borrowed pickup truck in the mud, making shooting noises as he walks through the woods and swinging his also borrowed rifle like a scythe to cut down vegetation.
Crossing the deep carpet of fallen leaves decaying on the forest floor, Spectral’s Clayne Crawford is the insurance salesman turned moustachioed king of the mountain in his second collaboration with writer and director Robert Machoian, The Integrity of Joseph Chambers exploring the menace of the empty spaces beyond the occupation of man and the choices a man makes when there is no witness to his folly, the only sound the calls of birds and the cries of animals.
Joe claiming that he aims to provide for his family, Tess is understandably apprehensive, warning him not to turn into a “doomsday prepper” like her own father became, but while the trip is largely in service of Joe’s ego that fragile shell shatters when he stumbles on a man living off-grid in the forest while engaged in the futile task of trying to catch a deer by chasing it on foot, someone whose whole life can be hefted in little more than a rucksack.
Sketched in the same shape as Calibre but with fewer details within that outline, the supporting cast including Chuck’s Jordana Brewster, True Blood’s Michael Raymond James and The Walking Dead‘s Jeffrey Dean Morgan in an atypically gentle role are little more than single-scene cameos in support of Crawford’s showcase of emotion, The Integrity of Joseph Chambers built entirely around his performance and supported by his other contributions, also listed as producer, set designer and the sole credit for wardrobe, presumably implying he wore his own clothes.
A well-meaning but overconfident man ignorant of the basic rules of the wilderness and gun safety who creates a situation then makes it hideously worse, Joe has dug his grave and now must lie in it, wracked with guilt and remorse as he questions whether carrying that burden is sufficient penitence or whether he must confess, inevitably destroying his own family, The Integrity of Joseph Chambers a simple but effective morality play which but one which could easily have played out in a single hour.
The Integrity of Joseph Chambers will be available on digital Download and Blu-ray in the UK and Ireland from Monday 17th April