November 7, 2012

Blu-ray Review: Chained

Jennifer Lynch is not a filmmaker I know all that much about. I have not seen Boxing Helena (I think I have a copy of it around here somewhere), Surveillance is sitting in my Netflix queue, and I have heard Hisss is a mess. So, Chained stands alone as my first exposure to the work of Jennifer Lynch. Is it a good movie? I would like to say wholeheartedly yes, but I can't. I think it is a very good movie spoiled by an awful ending. Seriously, watch it until the last five or ten minutes, shut it off and make up your own.

Now, do not let the fact that I think the ending is awful deter you from seeing the movie. It is really a riveting film. Chained is a quiet, subdued film that takes a look at evil and wonders if it is teachable. Is it born inside of someone or is it a quality that can be taught. It features some very strong performances that will sit with you long after the crappy ending has faded from memory.

As the movie begins, we see a boy, Tim (Evan Bird), and his mother, Sarah (Julia Ormond), leave dad (Jake Webber) behind and take in a horror movie. Afterwards they catch a cab to head home. This proves to be a big mistake. The cab is driven by Bobby (Vincent D'onofrio), a serial rapist and murderer of women. In other words, a nice fellow.

He drives them to his secluded home, drags her out of the car, kills her, and then decides to keep Tim. He renames him Rabbit, chains him to the wall, and trains him to keep the house. He has him doing tasks like cleaning the house, burying the victims, and finding clippings of news stories related to his deeds to keep in a scrapbook.

It starts off as perhaps a little Stockholm syndrome, but develops into a twisted father/son dynamic. The relationship grows to the point where Rabbit is unchained. The question then becomes what the boy will do, will he run or will he pick up the work of his adoptive father/captor.

Chained is a thriller, it is a horror movie, it is not, however, a terribly graphic film. It may center on a killer/protoge relationship, but it is not a bloody film. It is a talky film. Bobby and Rabbit talk a lot and this talking brings a lot of weight to the story.

Vincent D'onofrio delivers a searing performance. Just watch his expressions, his manner of seating, the man was born to play twisted individuals. I loved the way the man speaks as Bobby. Fascinating work. As good as he is, he is matched by both Evan Bird and Eamon Farren who play Rabbit at different ages. They bring a different sort of intensity and are quite believable.

Overall, this a really good film with the ending as its lone glaring bad spot. It is a character study that draws you in and holds your attention.

Audio/Video. The film is presented in a ratio of 2.4:1. It was shot digitally on the RED camera and it generally looks pretty good. I is not a very colorful movie, and often has a rather flat appearance, but it all works with the bleakness of the material. Detail is always good, of not exciting. It will no win awards for being pretty, but it certainly is effective.

The soundtrack is a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 and it does the job, but is rather unspectacular. Dialogue is clear and centered, there is some nice ambiance but it is not really involving the way a great track can be.

Extras. This release is a little light on material.

  • Commentary. The track features director Jennifer Lynch and star Vincent D'onofrio. It is a dry track with some gaps in the discussion, but still has some good information about the production.
  • Deleted Scene. This is an alternate version of one of the kills.
  • Trailer.

Bottomline. Skip the ending and you have a solid, creepy, haunting character such involving a serial killer and a kidnap victim. It is not really groundbreaking, but I is well acted and effectively staged, well worth the time.


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