Chained (2012 film)
|Directed by||Jennifer Lynch|
|Produced by||Rhonda Baker
|Written by||Damian O'Donnell|
|Music by||Climax Golden Twins|
|Edited by||Daryl K. Davis
Chris A. Peterson
Chained is a 2012 Canadian psychological thriller–slasher film directed by Jennifer Lynch that stars Vincent D'Onofrio, Julia Ormond, and Eamon Farren. D'Onofrio plays a serial killer who kidnaps and adopts a young boy, eventually turning him into his protege.
This story was based on a true story. Nine-year-old Tim and his mother Sarah are brought to the cinema by his father Brad (Jake Weber) who urges them to take a taxi instead of a bus when going home. After the show, Sarah wants to call a taxi but one is already arriving. They enter it but instead of bringing them home the driver, Bob (Vincent D'Onofrio), abducts them into his home. There he kills Sarah and makes Tim his slave for his housework, threatening him with violence if he does not obey, giving him the new name "Rabbit". Tim tries to escape later, Bob even encourages him to run away, but then Tim is afraid to do this when he notices that nobody can hear him far away from the city. Bob continues to be a serial killer abducting young girls, raping and killing them at his home.
Nine years later, Tim has become a teenager and is still caught in Bob's home doing the housework and burying his dead victims. Bob acts as a kind of stepfather, making him read books about the human body so that he learns how it works. He also shows him a picture of Tim's father who married a new wife and has another son with her, making Tim clear that he has nobody else other than Bob to care for him. Later, he asks him if he also wants a girl showing him the yearbook of a college but Tim refuses, making Bob angry, forcing him later to choose a girl named Angie from it who is also abducted by him.
He leaves Tim and Angie in a room, suggesting Tim have sex and then killing her with a knife. Tim hesitates but then stabs her with the knife in the stomach, presumably killing her and burying her body where the others are.
Bob seems to be satisfied with Tim's development as after this Tim asks him to go out for a hunt. Bob takes him in the city with his cab, suggesting Tim several girls to take with them but Tim refuses. Bob wants to return home but discovers that Tim has written the word "help" with red lipstick on the side of the cab. An angered Bob beats Tim and drives home as he realises that Tim hasn't killed Angie but only stabbed her non-lethally and hidden her where the other bodies are buried. He knocks Tim unconscious and enters the small room where Angie is lying, in order to kill her. Angie manages to cut Bob's Achilles tendon while Tim awakes and comes to save her. After a brawl, Tim kills Bob by cutting his throat and then buries him next to his victims.
Tim drives Bob's cab in the city to his old home, encountering his father Brad, his new wife Marie (Gina Philips) and his half-brother. His father is surprised to see him alive and feigns delight about this but then Tim confronts him with a letter he has found at Bob's home. This letter reveals that Bob is Brad's brother (and thereby Tim's uncle) and that Brad arranged the abduction of Tim and his mother as he wanted to get rid of them. Brad attacks Tim in anger and wants him to leave but Marie interferes as she is shocked about the revelation. Brad beats Marie. and Tim tries to defend her but is knocked down by Brad, who continues to beat him. Tim knocks Brad on the head with a glass, killing him. Marie then urges Tim to leave and calls the police, claiming that burglars have killed her husband. Tim drives with the cab to Bob's home, as it is the only place where he can hide.
In the closing credits the sounds of someone (presumably Tim) entering the carhouse, starting the cab and leaving with it, can be heard.
- Vincent D'Onofrio as Bob
- Julia Ormond as Sarah Fittler
- Jake Weber as Brad Fittler
- Eamon Farren as Teenage Rabbit
- Evan Bird as Young Rabbit
- Gina Philips as Marie
- Conor Leslie as Angie
The film was shot in Regina, Saskatchewan, over a period of 15 days. Lynch used the same crew as Surveillance. The original concept came from a script by Damian O'Donnell. Although Lynch liked the script, she felt it was wrong for her, as she did not want to shoot a film in the style of torture porn. The producers explained that they wanted to see her take on the script, so she rewrote it to focus on the characters rather than gratuitous violence. Lynch said that by focusing on the story, she was able to "humanise and explain – though not justify – the devastating behaviour that is a serial killer."
D'Onofrio was drawn to the project by Lynch's involvement, as he had wanted to work with her on Boxing Helena. Lynch had also wanted to work with D'Onofrio, but the role was not specifically written for him. Lynch was drawn to D'Onofrio, who was always her first choice, because the part required an actor that was capable of showing an injured inner child. Because D'Onofrio was willing to do this, Lynch praised his performance as brave. Farren and D'Onofrio worked well together on the set, which D'Onofrio credits for their on-screen chemistry. The actors used very little improvisation. For Bob, D'Onofrio said that he needed to find the character's moral compass, even though Bob is a serial killer. As a character actor, D'Onofrio said that he is drawn to fascinating characters, no matter how flawed. Farren was impressed with Lynch's cover letter for the script reader and got along very well with her when they spoke. On set, Farren and Lynch collaborated easily, and Farren said they she did not need to give much direction to him. Lynch recruited Bird, who played the young Rabbit, over Skype after the casting crew recommended him. Lynch said that his audition tape gave her chills.
The film is a study of how monsters are made, and Lynch says that she wanted to "promote a dialogue about child abuse." Through Bob's back story, Lynch attempted to show how society had turned him into a monster through child abuse. With Rabbit, she wanted to explore the theme of "nature vs nurture". Farren described Rabbit as a stunted child, a nineteen-year-old man who stopped emotionally maturing at nine. Rabbit did not become what Lynch called "a full blown replica of Bob" because he has a loving childhood. This allowed Lynch to compare and contrast how the two men turned out. Lynch did not want to perpetuate the cycle of violence and make Rabbit into a killer, which she said would have been boring.
Lynch was contractually obligated to keep the film to a certain run time, so she had to abbreviate the plot twist. Although she recognizes that some people find it to be tacked on, she said that a director's cut would expand on it and make it more natural. The ending scene is meant to be hopeful, and Lynch says that she sees it as both realistic and happy.
Chained had its world premiere at the Fantasia Festival in Montreal on 5 August 2012. Anchor Bay Entertainment released it direct-to-video on DVD and Blu-ray in the US on 2 October 2012. Although there was money budgeted for a director's cut, they had to use it in other areas. Lynch still wants to do a director's cut eventually.
The film was originally rated NC-17 by the MPAA for "some explicit violence". Lynch appealed the rating, but it was upheld. She later edited the film to achieve an R rating. Kevin Carney of Anchor Bay said that films with comparable violence were rated R for arbitrary reasons, and Lynch said that her films were targeted with NC-17 ratings for their authenticity and intensity, which, according to her, "rewards a casual attitude toward violence." Lynch later said that NC-17 had failed, as audiences still associated it with the old X rating. The NC-17 scene that was cut is included as a special feature.
Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 73% of 15 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating was 5.3/10. Dennis Harvey of Variety compared it to Boxing Helena in terms of misogyny and called it "a repugnant exercise in physical and psychological sadism" and "a redundant wallow in arted-up, torture-porn cruelty." Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian rated it 1/5 stars and called it a "fantastically crass and fatuous serial-killer movie". David Hughes of Empire rated it 2/5 stars and described it as "plenty nasty but singularly lacking in clever new twists on a weary genre." Matt Glasby of Total Film rated it 3/5 stars and wrote, "Ripped from the headlines, Lynch's disturbing portrait of a serial killer is let down at the last by a conclusion that clumsily unpicks everything we've invested in." Tim Robey of The Daily Telegraph rated it 1/5 and called it "a lurid disgrace". Rod Lott of the Oklahoma Gazette wrote that the first half is "absorbing and tense", but the film becomes predictable and slow-paced. Scott A. Gray of Exclaim! wrote that it is a "deeply disturbing, but deeply human look at the causation of cyclical violence" that could become a cult film if re-released under Lynch's supervision. Simon Foster of the Special Broadcasting Service rated it 3.5/5 stars and called it a "bleak, claustrophobic and brutal serial killer drama." Scott Weinberg of Fearnet wrote that the film is subversive and disturbing but becomes uneven and more traditional later. Lauren Taylor of Bloody Disgusting rated it 4/5 stars and wrote, "Chained takes a typical tale of an abused child growing up to become a serial killer and makes it something that is Oscar worthy." Serena Whitney of Dread Central rated it 3.5/5 stars and wrote, "Not since American Psycho have audiences experienced a clever dissection of the appalling misogyny displayed in the serial killer subgenre from a female perspective". Jamie S. Rich of DVD Talk rated it 1.5/5 stars and said that D'Onofrio's cartoony performance makes Bob seem comical rather than unsettling. Bill Gibron of DVD Verdict wrote that it is "a complicated bit of brutality" that "highlights Lynch's struggling strengths…and obvious weaknesses."
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