It could be said that as a genre, horror films strive the hardest to gain some form of reaction from those who are watching them. Whether it be sheer terror from seeing the on-screen image of a ghost appearing (like in films such as The Amityville Horror) or the churning of stomachs as characters suffer endless amounts of pain and torture (such as they do in films such as Hostel and Saw) if a horror movie triggers a feeling of unease then it has done it’s job. Unfortunately this is where Chained falls a little flat because what starts out as unnerving and intriguing, turns into a boring, implausible and downright misogynistic exercise.
After a trip to the cinema, a mother and her son decide to take a taxi ride home so they jump into the first one they see. Unfortunately for them, the driver is a psycho who kidnaps women and takes them back to his house to rape and murder them so in order to keep with this tradition he locks the boy in his garage whilst he takes the mother inside and ensures she meets her undeserved grisly fate. From here he takes it upon himself to be the boy’s (whom he has named Rabbit) primary caregiver in the hope that he too will follow in his footsteps and one day become a woman-hating serial killer too.
Let’s start off with the positives; for the first twenty minutes or so, the film is extremely intense and uncomfortable to sit through. This is mainly down to the performances given by Vincent D’Onofrio (who is great throughout the movie even when it sags) and young Evan Bird who conveys perfectly the fear and grief of a child in his predicament. It also must be said that the writing in this part of the film is also very good and largely adds to the intensity of the situation with Bob offering Rabbit strange “fatherly” advice on how to deal with life’s challenges (“Never give up and always follow through” says Bob after Rabbit drops a stone he intended to knock him out with). Also Jennifer Lynch definitely takes after her father in that she can take the most ordinary of sets (in this case a house) and shoot it in a way that makes it look beautiful, obscure and a bit menacing at the same time which helps with the film’s tone.
From here onwards however what was once intense and a bit sickening quickly becomes a laborious endeavour with Bob bringing back more women just to kill them and Rabbit not being able to do anything about it. This in a way desensitizes the audience to the violence displayed in the film which will make them just accept that these poor women are there just to be raped and ultimately killed. It is also around this point where the gaping plot holes start to reveal themselves. For example: when it comes to looking for Rabbit, wouldn’t the police and social services be looking for more than eight weeks? And also it is obvious that Bob has been kidnapping and killing women for a very long time (he keeps a scrapbook of the newspaper articles about the women that he helped go “missing”), so why haven’t the police caught up with him yet? And it’s not as if he lives in a big city either so it’s not like he’d be hard to find. And if Rabbit (who is now about sixteen or seventeen) has been living off nothing but scraps off Bob’s plate, why does he look so well-nourished. And the less said about the completely ridiculous excuse for a twist at the end, the better.
All in all the film is for the most part a very “seen it all before” product which is saved by two very good performances and a rather strong opening. But if you want to watch a film with this concept but done in a much more chilling way, then rent Bereavement.