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). It ends up being their last ride together. Bob murders the young boy’s mother and keeps Tim as his unwilling protégée, making him clean up the mess following each murder he commits. After a couple of aborted escape attempts, Bob chains Tim – now renamed Rabbit -- allowing just enough length to move freely within the house. As the years pass, Bob starts instructing Rabbit, teaching him anatomy and human behavior. Now a teenager, Rabbit (Eamon Farren, X: Night of Vengeance) is slowly being pressed by Bob to start his own homicidal spree. Slowly but surely, he must soon choose whether to follow in Bob’s serial killer footsteps or make one final, desperate attempt to break free...
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
Jennifer Lynch's 'Chained' is an unapologetic psychological thriller. Some have billed this as a horror film, but that's not the case. 'Chained' will take you out of your comfort zone and leave you talking about it for days. And although it will be in your 'serial killer' film collection, this particular movie has a different quality and lasting psychological effect that will haunt you the next time you decide to take a cab.
'Chained' starts off with Tim, a 9 year old boy and his mother (Julia Ormond), who are dropped off at the local cinema by dad (Jake Weber). We instantly see how cool Tim's mom is by letting him see the horror film instead of the new kids movie. Once the film is over, by the instructions of dad, they are supposed to take a cab home instead of the bus. They hail a taxi driven by Bob (Vincent D'Onofrio), who seems like your typical cab driver.
Soon after they get in the car, and following a couple of missed turns, Tim and his mother realize that Bob is not really a cab driver, but a serial killer, and that bad things are about to happen. Bob drives Tim and his mother to his remote house with no cellular signal. Bob takes Tim's mother into the house and leaves Tim in the car as Bob violently rapes and ultimately kills her. Bob is confused with what to do with this 9 year old boy, as he only kills women, and decides to keep Tim around to cook and clean. And by clean, I mean clean up the brutal and bloody murders Bob leaves in his house, starting with his own mother.
After a couple of failed attempts of escape, Bob chains Tim to the house and leaves him enough slack to get around the home completely. This made me think of 'Black Snake Moan.' We fast forward a decade into the future and Tim is still chained, but is now a teenager (Eamon Farren). From here, we see Bob try and teach Tim how to be a serial killer in a sick and twisted father-son type fashion. Here we see Bob treating Tim more like an heir to throne rather than a prisoner. There is even a very creepy scene where the two play Go-Fish with a deck of victim's licenses.
This film differs from the rest of the serial killer films, as it doesn't rely on showing bloody and ultra violent murders, but rather shows a steadily-paced storyline with intense psychological trauma. This film was originally titled 'Rabbit', due to what Bob calls Tim, but was later changed to 'Chained'. Lynch did a great job of filming the beautiful outdoor scenery of green pastures and bright yellow colored cab, and then transitioning into a dirty brown and yellow interior for a large chunk of the film. It's as if we were seeing the surroundings rotting from start to finish.
D'Onofrio does an amazing job as Bob. He has come a long way from Leonard Lawrence in 'Full Metal Jacket' and Thor in 'Adventures in Babysitting.' His twisted father-son relationship with Tim is so disturbing, that I wouldn't be surprised if he won some kind of award for his role. Farren and Ormond also turn in great performances. I'm sure this was a difficult film to shoot, considering the subject matter, and they all rose to the occasion. 'Chained' is a movie you should own. It's a conversation piece that you will be showing your cinephile friends and talking about over and over again. Even with its strange twist ending, 'Chained' will linger for days to come.
'Chained' comes with a glorious 1080p transfer and has a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. This film is rather bleak and dark for the most part. The inside of Bob's house is grimy, dark, and moldy. But the HD transfer does a good job of bringing these dull colors to life. Most of the colors of the film are dim, with the exception of being outside. The detail is very good on most closeups where you can see tiny hairs and cuts. Flesh tones are natural and smooth and reflect the light perfectly.
The blacks are deep and inky with the contrast being decent, considering the dim and muted colors. Most of the scenes inside Bob's house seem flat, but once outside, everything pops vibrantly. I think this was the point, to make us get a sense of fresh air once outside Bob's house. I did not notice any noise with the image, however there was a tiny bit of banding. This film is not meant to be bright and colorful, and I think the video presentation comes together with the film itself fittingly.
Chained' surprisingly comes with a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 lossless audio mix. This is a fairly ordinary and lackluster audio mix for the most part. Like I said above, this isn't your typical serial killer thriller. This has a more subdued feeling with more delicate sounds coming from all of the speakers, rather than large booms. The dialogue track is crisp and clear, while the score is evenly distributed on all speakers and never feels overly loud.
The bass has its moments with dramatic notes that can rattle your home. It's pretty successful with that. The dialogue is focused on the center channel with the ambient noises faintly come out of the surround speakers. Bob's house is rather quiet for the whole film, so there isn't a lot of sound that comes out, but when it does, the audio does its simple job. Nothing more, nothing less.
- Audio Commentary -Director/Writer Jennifer Lynch is joined by actor Vincent D'Onofrio to provide a fun and informative commentary track. Both of them talk about the hardships of the short film shoot and how great everybody did on the movie. They even offer a bit more insight onto the film's themes and characters, which made me watch the film again. You can tell that Lynch just fell in love with D'Onofrio after this movie, as she talks about him and how amazing he is as a person and actor. A must listen for any fan of the film.
- Mary's Murder - Alternate Version (HD, 2 mins) - Here is one of the murder scenes in its full capacity. This murder scene was the deciding factor between the film being rated R or NC-17. And in the commentary, Lynch is still angry about this decision.
'Chained' is a great film that shows two very different people living in the same situation. One of them loves this disturbing life, while the other downright loathes it. With Lynch's amazing direction and D'Onofrio's amazing and unsettling performance, I definitely recommend 'Chained.' The commentary track was great and the film itself will leave you wondering about it for days on end.
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