Chained (2012 film)
Chained is a 2012 Canadian psychological thriller directed by Jennifer Lynch and starring Vincent D'Onofrio, Eamon Farren, and Julia Ormond. D'Onofrio portrays a serial killer who attempts to turn a young man (Farren) he kidnapped into his protege.
|Directed by||Jennifer Lynch|
|Produced by||Rhonda Baker|
|Screenplay by||Jennifer Lynch|
|Story by||Damian O'Donnell|
|Music by||Climax Golden Twins|
|Edited by||Daryl K. Davis|
Chris A. Peterson
Sarah Fittler and her nine-year-old son take a taxi to return home from the cinema, but are abducted by the driver, Bob, and brought to his house. As a result of abuse his father inflicted on him and his brother, Bob is a serial killer who rapes and murders young women he captures. He kills Sarah and forces her son, whom he renames "Rabbit", to become his personal prisoner. When Rabbit tries to escape, Bob chains him to the wall.
Years later, the now teenage Rabbit remains chained in Bob's home doing housework and burying the bodies of Bob's victims. While still holding the young man captive, Bob tries to become more of a father figure and has Rabbit educate himself about human anatomy. To make Rabbit believe nobody else cares for him, Bob reveals that Rabbit's father Brad has remarried. He also releases Rabbit from his chains. However, in bringing Rabbit closer, Bob intends to have Rabbit follow him in becoming a serial killer.
In an effort to complete Rabbit's transformation into a serial killer, Bob asks him to pick a victim from a yearbook. Rabbit initially refuses, but when Bob forces him to make a selection, he chooses a girl named Angie and Bob abducts her. Leaving Rabbit and Angie in a room, Bob warns Rabbit that he will kill the girl if Rabbit does not. Rabbit hesitates and starts to bond with Angie, but stabs her in the stomach when Bob barges in. He then drags her body into the room containing the corpses of past victims. Satisfied with Rabbit's development, Bob agrees to his request to hunt for another girl.
Bob brings Rabbit in the city with his cab and suggests several potential victims, but Rabbit declines them all. As they continue to drive, Bob discovers that Rabbit has written the word "help" on the side of the cab. Bob then realizes that Rabbit did not kill Angie, but stabbed her non-lethally using his knowledge of anatomy and hid her where the other bodies are buried. He knocks Rabbit unconscious and enters the room where Angie is hiding to kill her. Angie manages to cut Bob's Achilles tendon while Rabbit awakens and comes to save her. Following a struggle, Rabbit kills Bob and buries him next to his victims.
With Bob dead, Rabbit tracks down Brad, now living with his new wife Marie and Rabbit's half-brother Colin. His father feigns delight about his survival until Rabbit, whose real name is revealed to be Tim, confronts him with the knowledge that Brad had arranged the abduction of him and his mother. Through a letter he found, Tim discovered that Bob is Brad's brother and Brad, who had urged Sarah to take a taxi the day of the kidnapping, wanted to get rid of his first wife and son. Tim does not retaliate when Brad responds by striking him, but when Brad begins to assault Marie, Tim beats him to death with a glass ornament. After Tim leaves at Marie's urging, Marie calls the police and tells them that a burglar killed her husband.
Tim returns to the house he was held captive in and shuts the garage door. As the closing credits roll, only the sounds of him entering the house, opening the fridge, cutting paper, walking back out into the garage, getting into the cab, and re-opening the garage door are heard.
- Vincent D'Onofrio as Bob
- Daniel Maslany as Young Bob
- Eamon Farren as Rabbit / Tim Fittler
- Evan Bird as Young Rabbit
- Julia Ormond as Sarah Fittler
- Conor Leslie as Angie
- Jake Weber as Brad Fittler
- Michael Maslany as Young Brad
- Gina Philips as Marie
Additionally, Troy Skog and Shannon Jardine portray Bob's parents and Alexander Doerksen plays Colin. Amy Matysio appears as Mary, one of Bob's victims. Director Jennifer Lynch has a cameo as a cooking show host on TV.
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 that 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, which depicts a more graphic version of Mary's (Amy Matysio) death, 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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