Starring Vincent D’Onofrio, Julia Ormond, Eamon Farren, Gina Phillips, Evan Bird and Jake Weber
Written by Damian O’Donnell and Jennifer Lynch
Directed by Jennifer Lynch
After her trials and tribulations in India directing the film Hisss, documented in the excellent feature documentary Despite the Gods, with her next effort Jennifer Lynch wanted to get back to the friendly confines of small indie horror that spawned her, the result is Chained. Armed with a script she adapted herself and a stellar lead actor in D’Onofrio, Lynch set out to once again carve out her unique vision with the level of creative control only an indie film can provide, although it should be mentioned that the title was changed from Rabbit to Chained.
Coming home from a routine trip to the movies, eight-year-old Tim (Bird) and his mother, Sarah (Ormond), are picked up by a psychopathic cab driver named Bob (D’Onofrio). Bob murders the young boy’s mother and keeps Tim as his unwilling protegee, making him clean up the mess following each murder he commits. After a couple of aborted escape attempts, Bob chains Tim, now renamed Rabbit, to the inside of the house allowing just enough length to move freely within. As the years pass, Bob starts instructing Rabbit, teaching him anatomy and human behavior. Now a teenager, Rabbit (Farren) is slowly being pressed by Bob to start his own homicidal spree. Slowly but surely, he must eventually choose whether to follow in Bob’s serial killer footsteps or make one final, desperate attempt to break free from his long captivity.
D’Onofrio’s Bob is a menacing, grimy and remorseless beast of a man with no redeeming characteristics at all. Through flashback sequences we see the violence and degradation he went through that led him to become the man he is today. Lynch’s script pulls no punches in showing us exactly what Bob is capable of as we are taken right into his “killing room” and shown exactly what becomes of the girls he brings home. D’Onofrio’s performance is unflinching and fascinating to watch, he truly is one of the finest actors we have working today. Sadly the film is basically a two man piece, and our other lead Farren is way out of his league here. Left to sullen blank stares and random fits of screaming and moaning, one in particular is pretty laughable, Farren isn’t awful here, he’s just vastly overshadowed and the film suffers because of it. The story is passable here, though there are plot holes and an ending that is completely unearned and quite frankly terrible. The twist we are presented with is not only implausible but it’s also so bad that even M.Night Shyamalan at his absolute worst could do better in his sleep. That said, Lynch shows strength behind the camera as her lens is unforgiving, exploring every inch of the excellent set and setting, and the film has a great feel and pacing to it. Clearly Lynch is evolving into a solid, style based director, but it’s just too bad the script was her downfall on this one.
The disc itself is practically bereft of special features as we get an alternate cut of one of the death scenes and a trailer for the film. The saving grace here is the audio commentary with Lynch and D’Onofrio. Lynch is her usual self-deprecating, open book that she is known for and a charming D’Onofrio provides a great play-by-play as the two show they have a natural chemistry moving the commentary along.
Despite the great performance from D’Onofrio, Chained doesn’t quite satisfy due to a weaker second lead and an ending that ruins any goodwill the film had before. Sadly I cannot recommend a purchase of Chained, but if you can get a cheap rental or attach it to your Netflix cue, you could do far worse. Chained is a mild non-recommend.
Till Next Time,
Movie Junkie TO
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