Right from the beginning the reality and grittiness of Chained, the new film by Jennifer Lynch, made me want to turn away. I wanted to stop watching and not because the movie was bad; it was so powerful and painfully true to life that I couldn’t help but be moved by it. It sickened me and at the same time I was permanently sucked inside the story. Based on a screenplay by Damian O’Donnell, Chained takes a typical tale of an abused child growing up to become a serial killer and makes it something that is Oscar worthy.
The world is jacked up. We all know this and we turn away from the news when we hear everyday of children going missing. We shy away from the fact that there are sadistic individuals that abduct, torture and kill young women. Very rarely do we have to see or hear the complete details of these people’s upbringings or what drove them to do what they do unless we pick up a book or watch a documentary.
Harnessing that sadistic nature is easy for some actors. For Vincent D’Onofrio, it seems to flow off him with such ease that it scares me. He is so incredibly brilliant in all of his roles, and as Bob he is no different. Bob is a cool collected cab driver that picks up a woman every day to rape and kill. When he picks up Sarah Fittler (Julia Ormond) one day, he has excess baggage to deal with – her nine-year-old son, Tim. Instead of killing the boy, he mentors him in a way only a psychopath can: keeping him chained to the wall. Renaming him Rabbit, Bob forces the child to clean up after he has his ‘taste of a woman’ each night.
Young actor Evan Bird is amazing as nine year old Tim/Rabbit. This kid only gets about twenty minutes of screen time, but his portrayal is strong and amazing. As Rabbit transitions to a teenager, Eamon Farren takes hold of the role and Bob decides it is time to educate him. The idea behind why Bob wants to make Rabbit his protégé is echoed through sickening flashbacks. We see why Bob is the way he is and are given hints as to how it will all end. Awkward, naïve and innocent; Farren’s ability to evoke sympathy for the character of Rabbit is uncanny.
The movie is filmed impeccably. The Blu-ray is crystal clear, bringing every detail into focus. Everything is set so perfectly, from the type of chairs used to the staging of how Rabbit and Bob sit to watch television, that it is easy to be engulfed in the story. There was never a moment where I thought I was watching a movie. Little things that D’Onofrio does throughout the film like a slight change in his speech pattern or just a simple action of patting his lips with a handkerchief are icing on the cake. The lighting and house set that we see the same angles of over and over and yet they do not not grow tiresome. Instead the claustrophobic aura grows more intense as the movie progresses. The darkness of the plot is accented with excessive amount of brown visually and the entire package is tied up with a jaw-dropping bow at the end.
Films are a way for us to see inside the evils of the world and keep a safe distance. Chained fully gives a well-rounded story that shows truth to the sick things that go on in this world. And it does a damn good job of it.