A nasty and uncomfortable viewing experience but intentionally so. Chained has a pair of terrific performances for such a low-rent genre flick: Vincent D’Onofrio is suitably vile as the serial rapist and murderer Bob, and Eamon Farren is equally effective as Rabbit, the teenage boy he kidnaps to assist him in the crimes. It’s this unorthodox dynamic that lies at the dark heart of the movie and it works best when it digs deep into the minutia of their routines. There is also lots of disturbing behavioural detail. For instance: to pass the time, the two play a card game with the driver’s licenses of their victims and when Rabbit is of age, Bob encourages him to rape and murder a girl of his own.
The film doesn’t pull any punches and writer/director Jennifer Lynch (daughter of the more famous Lynch) isn’t afraid of going too far if the material demands it. The violence, both sexual and otherwise, is repulsive and ugly. It’s one of those films that makes you want to take a bath afterwards but there’s something to be said for that kind of visceral impact. Chained becomes less interesting the further it goes on as the inevitable subplot of escaping Bob’s lair rises to the forefront, culminating in a eleventh hour climax that really isn’t necessary or successfully executed. Still, the performance work and fresh take on a familiar set-up makes it worth watching. This is easily pre-Daredevil Vincent D’Onofrio’s best character performance since Men In Black. He’s one of those actors who isn’t afraid of committing himself totally to controversial material, which I really respect and appreciate.
I still haven’t seen a Jennifer Lynch movie that has totally knocked me over, but her handle on excessive, distressing genre is pretty exciting to behold. If Room was a little too sugary sweet for your palette, Chained is probably the film for you.