Wednesday, August 8, 2012

''Fantasia 2012: ‘Chained’ (Review)''



Posted at August 7, 2012 by Mario Melidona 

“Terror starts at home” or so what Jennifer Lynch makes of it. Filled with despair, fear and the traumatic events of growing up, Chained is an absolutely mesmerizing and enveloping story about a serial killer taking in a child and raising him to be his family. Starring Vincent D’Onofrio as the terrifying and physically intimidating warped sociopath, Jennifer Lynch makes great use of the barren middle-of-anywhere U.S.A. and gnaws at the core humanity in all of us. The film had its World Premiere at Fantasia International Film Festival. 

It’s difficult to talk about the film without ever constantly coming back to D’Onofrio, an actor who’s always gone all-in when it comes to these sorts of roles. Who could ever forget Full Metal Jacket? No one. D’Onofrio’s portrayal of Bob is enthralling; his body hunched over almost childlike himself with a slight lisp. He’s not stupid, but is slightly naïve about the relationship he tries to cultivate with Rabbit, the boy he kidnapped and brought up under his control. Rabbit’s story begins when he and his mother Sarah Fittler (Julia Ormond) were leaving from a movie theater and got into the wrong cab, driven by Bob. Portrayed at two distinct “growing” stages, Evan Bird provides deep emotional terror as a young boy and the film quickly skips ahead several years to show a victimized and “chained” up late-teen Rabbit (Eamon Farren). We see the routine he’s had to live with for years, forcing him to clean after Bob’s kill, eat only what’s left for him after Bob’s eaten and finally realizing that the wanting to escape is much harder than expected. 

Growing up from a truly warped childhood, Bob kills women because they’re born “sluts” and “whores”; traits attributed to women from all walks of life. When Bob was much younger,[SPOILERS] he was taking the brunt of his father’s abuse in order to protect his brother and was forced to have sex with his mother, which was his father’s twisted sense of becoming a “man” (in clear contrast to what his father was not). [END SPOILERS] Thinking that Rabbit needed a woman to clear his mind, Bob forces him to choose a woman for his first kill. Strangely enough throughout all these years of abuse, Rabbit demonstrates that no matter how corrupted or how long we’ve become accustomed to violence and abuse, there’s always core humanity in all of us; one that we should and can strive to be better and change our destructive ways. 

Needing to escape and in trying to save Annie (his chosen “first kill”), Rabbit gives away his plan to escape and save Annie to Bob and the ensuing sequence is heart-pounding and nerve-racking, you almost wish none of it was actually happening. D’Onofrio constructs a physical stature and presence, a calculated and precise mannerism that all leads Bob to an expulsion of rage, anger, bewilderment and betrayal. Wishing that you could save the little boy in him, but not before one more reveal that (in retrospect) you may have seen coming. The build-up has been so incredibly tense and immersive; you wonder why you didn’t ask yourself that question before. 

In fact, it’s a testament to the filmmakers where the editing let’s performances breathe from the entire cast (noting that to edit Vincent D’Onofrio is the hardest task at hand) and the story being so tightly written by Damian O’Donnell (polished by Jennifer Lynch herself), the film is propelled by characters that the progression of the narrative and everyone’s motivation is sound and purposeful. We often don’t get a film like this and beautifully photographed by Cinematography Shane Daly; we need to relish them, to uphold is thematic relevancies and to better our society at large. Jennifer Lynch brings about the atmospherics of daily life and the horror that begins at home. 



vikeau said...

Still pondering the review. Need mull over and probably read again.

Nantz said...

I liked the shout out to the DP.