Directed by Jennifer Lynch
In the film's perceptive and frank commentary, director/screenwriter Jennifer Lynch adamantly states that Chained isn't a horror film; rather, it's a drama about fear that deals with horrific subject matter. She is absolutely right, and that assertion cuts to what is most striking about this deeply disturbing, but deeply human look at the causation of cyclical violence. While the story deals with situations ubiquitous in horror cinema — kidnapping, murder, rape, captivity — the approach Lynch takes to the material deliberately eschews exploitive sex and violence to focus on the harrowing psychology behind manipulation and domination. Fearlessly committing to a very unnerving and unflattering role, Vincent D'Onofrio does an exceptional job of expressing the battered humanity of a monster who keeps a young boy as his slave after kidnapping and murdering his mother. Instead of concentrating on the serial killings, cutting away to some plucky detectives trying to crack the case, the entirety of Chained is centred on the relationship between the boy and his captor. Dubbed "Rabbit" by the vicious and demanding lord of his new world, the boy struggles to stay in his master's good graces without succumbing to the dehumanizing tutelage offered to him. Rabbit's struggle takes place over many years, and both actors who portray him (Evan Bird and Eamon Farran) do a commendable job of expressing complex emotions with minimal dialogue. As relentlessly disquieting as it is, the film never feels gratuitous, though its ending does rely on a dramatic twist, which, while making thematic sense, feels a little forced. For special features, there is the original version of the film's most graphic scene, which was apparently too much for the ratings board, and the aforementioned commentary with Lynch and D'Onofrio, who has a tough time watching the dark places his performance took him. Based on the riotously cranky director's comments — "I hope I get to do a director's cut," "through lack of a penis or money, I didn't get my way" — this isn't exactly the movie as envisioned, but it's close, and one she's (justifiably) fiercely proud of. As is, Chained is a vital and very professionally shot and performed work with few flaws. A director's cut, which would jettison the obvious metaphor of the studio's title of choice for Lynch's preferred and more oblique Rabbit, could become a cult classic and set an admirable standard of accountability in how horrific storytelling can be handled.
Be the first to comment