Director: Jennifer Lynch
A child (Evan Bird and Eamon Farren) is abducted by a serial killer (Vincent D'Onofrio) and forced to live with him for years. He becomes his slave and eventually his pupil in the art of whacking dames.
I walked into CHAINED backwards. For a while now I’ve been turned off by “realistic” horror films. I guess I see enough horror on the news that when it comes to escapism, I’d rather watch genre films that deal with ghosts, creatures, over the top slashers etc. But I’m a big admirer of Jennifer Lynch’s work (I have a fondness for Boxing Helena and Surveillance blew me away!) so I had to tap this one. And I’m glad I did.
CHAINED started off fairly harshly, it set up real people, in a real situation and yes I was pretty much disgusted by what I was seeing. But then something happened: I got into the characters and their relation to each other. For the most of its running time, CHAINED came off as a morbid stage play. A man and a teen in a room, forging a relationship and I got to witness it evolve. From the initial Stockholm Syndrome that’s tagged to the character of Rabbitt, to the evolution of the warped father/son bond that grew out of the situation, to the exploration of the “circle of violence” theme, this one had me by the balls. Props to the grounded and credible writing and of course the solid performances. I mean this is a macabre character study, and thank Mitra that they had actors that were up to the challenge. The underrated Vincent D”Onofrio gave an outstanding performance. I don’t know if he got that fat for the role or not but either way it worked! He was physically intimidating, oddly introspective and the sluggish way he talked brought it all home. And although I was appalled by the character I was also fascinated by his ambivalence. I kept trying to figure him out and to understand where the heck this dude was coming from. If films like this would be in the running for Oscars, Donofrio should get nominated. What a show!
I was also mucho impressed with Evan Bird as the young Rabbit. Seeing him do his thing, all I kept thinking was: wow, what a tough role for somebody that young. Good job kid! Somebody get him a new Transformers toy or something. He deserved it! On his end Eamon Farren held his own too, giving a vulnerable and empathetic show. I felt for the guy and was rooting for him to get out of that hell the whole time. It should be noted that the supporting cast (mostly chicks that die) was very convincing as well, hence upping the impact of the happenings on hand. Speaking of the morbid get downs, I was surprised as to how restraint the movie was in terms of its nudity and violence quota. Taking into account its subject matter (dude kidnaps, rapes and kills women) you’d think it would flaunt that shit, but it didn’t and that worked in its favor. This was first and foremost about the characters... the murders and the rapes were a backdrop. Lynch hinted and suggested as opposed to showing, hence not overwhelming my sorry ass or distancing me too much from the core of the movie: Rabbit and Bob. Very smart! Visually, Lynch showcased some stylish shots (loved the cab shots) and banged out an oppressive mood that got under my skin. It was dark, with a sense of dread oozing off every frame (sometimes too dark, more on that later) and the imagery echoed the meat of the movie. Moreover, she, gunned out a visceral use of flashbacks that rammed into me like a mack truck and also managed to evoke tension out of a couple of scenes.
Add to that a nice little cameo by Julia Ormond (who lost her Yank accent when yelling but aced it anyway), an evocative score and some plot twists that I didn’t see coming and you get a solid little ditty. On the flip side, I felt some scenes were cut way too short, hence negating themselves, there’s was at least one duh move to serve the plot and the ending left me a tad confused as to how I felt about it. Although it sucker punched me hard, as the end credits rolled I wasn’t sure if it worked or not. I still don’t know as I write this drivel. Do with that what you will.
All in all CHAINED surprised me. I was expecting to be put off by a vile sit down and to some degree I was, but I underestimated how much I would get into the situation and the two lead characters. It’s not a film to watch if you’re staring at a noose hanging off your ceiling, but definitely one to check out at least once. With that, although I enjoyed it, I never wanna see it again.
We get a slit throat, a stabbing and some blood. Ugly as to what it implies but surprisingly not as gory as I thought it would be.
T & A
We get a chick in her undies. And that wasn't pleasant in light of the context of the scene. So nope, didn’t pop a boner here.
Chained was a heavy movie. No human ugliness stone was left unturned: kidnapping, murder, rape, shite even incest punched in! But the flick addressed those issues with restraint, choosing to focus on the complex and always evolving relationship between the nut-job and his young captive/protege instead. Smart move. With air tight performances, morbid visuals, some suspense and a couple of slick twists, this mofo had me in its grasp from start to finish. Sure, some scenes were cut too short for my liking, there’s was a dumb move to serve the plot and am still confused as to how I feel about the final frames, but hey, it’s been days since I’ve seen the movie and I’m still thinking about it. That usually means we got something special on our hands.
The flick was shot in 14 days around Regina and Moose Jaw, Canada.