Reviewed by Andy
Vincent D’Onofrio as a serial killer. That sentence by itself can make a film worth checking out (though you have to worry a second where the method acting may lead!) but by the same token can be used as an excuse to have little substance beyond the hook. Fortunately that isn’t the case here, and the story is a hook in itself – taken with his mother by Bob (D’Onofrio) on a fateful cab trip, 9 year old Tim isn’t killed but kept to assist with preparation and cleanup. Renamed Rabbit and on a long chain that keeps him inside, as he ages Bob starts to educate him. But will the education Rabbit into a killer too?
Chained is a brutal yet compelling film that is anchored by a disturbingly real feeling performance from Vincent D’Onofrio. You never really find out why he kills but get a sense of slightly tired compulsion. There’s also a sense of growing attachment from treating Rabbit like his name to almost like a son, which plays into the tension around whether Rabbit will follow in Bob’s footsteps.
Unfortunately though, there are some flaws. Bob only seems to be making token attempts to avoid capture at times and seems to rely on coincidence that his abductees will only notice something is up once out of signal range, for example! It’s also a shame that to match time requirements some elements leading to a huge twist are slightly lacking – and it doesn’t look like they’re being restored for at least the US home release with the only additional footage in extras being the unrated version of a scene that originally earned the film an NC-17 rating due to the accuracy and realism in one of the murders. (The R-rated version is the one coming to the UK too)
It was interesting hearing director Jennifer Chambers Lynch talk about the film and its commentary on the argument of whether killers are born or made – personally I think Chained ultimately goes almost opposite to her indication in the Q&A. Watch the film and let us know your take in the forum! ***1/2