Monday, August 6, 2012

''Fantasia 2012: Jennifer Lynch has ‘Chained’ the Serial Killer Monster''


Written by Jennifer Lynch, based on a screenplay by Damian O’Donnell
Directed by Jennifer Lynch
USA 2012 Fantasia imdb
“I shall call you… Rabbit,” is the most chilling line of any film this year. Spoken slowly but deliberately with a slight lisp and a faint Germanic accent by Vincent D’Onofrio, the voice alone places Bob somewhere between Hans Beckert and Jeffrey Dahlmer. D’Onofrio’s performance as Bob is a virtuoso effort by one of our great (albeit under-utilized) actors, delicately inhabiting a brute, like a ballerina trapped in a gorilla’s body.
“When I said I cast Vincent D’Onofrio, I was told that he was too TV… What The Fuck?! Have you not seen Full Metal Jacket?”
-Jennifer Lynch
Bob is a taxi driver whose specially modified cab makes it easier for him to kidnap women, drive them back to his isolated rural home, rape them and kill them. One day, he picks up Sarah Fittler (Julia Ormond) and her ten year old son Tim (Evan Bird) at the movies where they have just seen a horror film. After killing Sarah, Bob changes Tim’s name to Rabbit, telling him, “I didn’t choose you, but I will make the most of it.”
“I wanted to talk about abuse. I wanted to start a dialogue. The main thing is we have to fucking stop hurting the kids!”
-Jennifer Lynch
Rabbit becomes Bob’s servant, “You will have one job. You do what I say. You clean up my house,” which begins with cleaning up the remains of his mother. In time, teenage Rabbit (Eamon Farren) becomes Bob’s reluctant student and it becomes clear that Bob intends for Rabbit to become his son and heir.
“I wanted to write an original horror story… I decided not to do something supernatural, which left serial killers. I had seen films where someone is chased by the killer, Halloween, and I had seen films where the police chase the killer, Se7enSilence of the Lambs, but I had never seen a film where an ordinary person is parachuted into a serial killer’s life and can’t get away.”
-Damian O’Donnell
Part of the genius of Chained is the way that Jennifer Lynch uses the rhythms of a home and a life and a father-son relationship to lull us into a form of Stockholm Syndrome along with Rabbit, only to twist the knife and remind us that Bob is a monster. This also allows her to give D’Onofrio screen time to truly develop Bob, to give him depth and dimension.
“He’s tough to cut. You just want to look at him forever.”
-Chris Peterson (editor)
It would be easy to categorize Chained as a nature vs. nurture story, but the film ends up being much more complicated than that. Lynch reveals a story of generational abuse in tiny drips, each splash causing us to reevaluate Bob’s life, but Lynch (and D’Onofrio) never let Bob off the hook for his actions. His past is a reason, not an excuse.
“Parents lend children their experience and a vicarious memory; children endow their parents with a vicarious immortality.”
-George Santayana
Bob sees Rabbit sometimes as a son, but mostly as a replacement. A replacement for the kid brother that Bob tried to protect from his father’s wrathful abuse and ultimately a replacement for Bob himself.
The greatest (and stupidest) tribute this film has received is from the MPAA who slapped the film with an NC-17 rating, for scenes of violence less gory, but more emotionally unsettling, than you will see from any horror fantasy franchise like SawHalloween or Friday the 13th.
“It would be easy to hate them. I wanted to hate them, but everyone in the MPAA were really nice people. When we went for our appeal, we played the film and then we got to speak and the lady who gave us the NC-17 rating got to speak. We pointed to the Saw films as examples of films that got an R rating with scenes much gorier than our film. They told us that our film felt too real.”
-Jennifer Lynch
Giving Chained an NC-17 rating is another bone-headed decision in a year when the MPAA seems determined to Stupid, Stupid Rat Creatures itself into irrelevance. I don’t mean to suggest that Chained should be viewed in the same light as Bully, but there are worse films to watch with your 14 year old. And watching Chained would lead to a discussion about evil – real world evil – that would never happen from watching the cartoon carnage inflicted by Michael, Jason, Freddy or Jigsaw.
“If had made the movie more sexualized or funnier, I would have got away with the violence. I could have made the violence hyper-sexual. I have done that before, but it didn’t seem appropriate here. I could have made the movie funny, but I don’t think that abuse is fucking funny.”
-Jennifer Lynch
Maybe the best part of the film is the sound design from D’Onofrio’s voice to the pounding, percussive score that traps you in the nightmare. It is almost possible to believe that you could follow the film’s plot just by listening with your eyes closed and, in fact, in certain parts of the film that is exactly what you can must do.
“And you, you that call yourselves collectors. Until now, you have all sustained fantasies in which you are the maltreated heroes of your own stories. Comforting daydreams in which, ultimately, you are shown to be in the right. No more. For all of you that dream is over. I have taken it away.”
-Dream from Sandman#14 ‘Collectors‘ written by Neil Gaiman
The problem inherent in most serial killer literature, whether on the page or on the screen, is that we tend to make our monsters into heroes, which is why Hannibal Lecter is getting his own TV series instead of Clarice Starling or Will Graham.
Jennifer Lynch and Vincent D’Onofrio dive deep into the abuse that creates monstrosities and emerge with the portrait of a complicated human monster, who is not once allowed to be the hero. The MPAA may believe that Chained is too real to be seen, but that is exactly why you should see it.

REVIEW: ''Horror Movie News Fantasia 2012: Chained (Directed by Jennifer Lynch) ''

Aug. 6, 2012
by: Chris Bumbray



PLOT: A young boy, Tim, and his mother (Julia Ormond) are abducted by a cab-driving serial killer, Bob (Vincent D’Onofrio). After his mother is killed, Bob decides to raise Tim, who he renames Rabbit, as his own son. Ten years later, the now teenaged Rabbit (Eamon Farren) has spent the last decade chained up in Bob’s home- but, now that he’s approaching adulthood, Bob has decided that it’s time to teach Rabbit the family business- murder. Will Rabbit, after ten years in captivity be able to hold on to his humanity, or after being raised by a monster, will he turn into one himself?

REVIEW: CHAINED is the latest from Jennifer Lynch, a director who is no stranger to controversy. Her first film, BOXING HELENA was downright infamous, while her follow-up, SURVEILLANCE shook up audiences (in a good way) when it played Fantasia a few years ago. In the years between that film, and CHAINED, Lynch travelled to India, where she made a film, HISSS- that turned out so badly that there’s a documentary- DESPITE THE GODS, about its troubled production that’s also at this year’s edition of Fantasia (look for a review shortly).

CHAINED is a comeback for Lynch, who’s proving herself to be a filmmaker that’s just as unconventional as her famous father- David Lynch. However, where he experiments with craft, she looks inward, putting the audience inside the heads of vicious characters most of us would never want to think about for any extended period of time. As such, CHAINED is a deeply troubling film- that probably owes more to psychological thrillers like SE7EN and MANHUNTER, than straightforward horror like SAW, despite what the NC-17 rating may lead you to believe.

Spending ninety minutes inside the head of a serial killer may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and certainly, CHAINED was a very difficult film to watch at times. That said, monsters such as Bob are all too real, and CHAINED is one of the first movies to come along in a while that tries to take a serious look at the kind of abuse that creates such a man. As Bob, Vincent D’Onofrio turns in a towering performance. This is not an easy role, and D’Onofrio, Lynch, and writer Damian O’Donnell have made sure that Bob can’t just be dismissed as a two-dimensional boogie man. While an evil, twisted killer- D’Onofrio still injects moments of inner turmoil, such as a really strong sequence where Bob picks up an abusive father as a fare, leading to flashbacks which reveal his own twisted upbringing at the hands of a vicious parent.

It’s this nature vs. nurture debate that seems to be at the heart of CHAINED. Lynch never goes so far as to say Bob’s upbringing is totally responsible for the way he turned out- but by having Rabbit suffering similar abuse at Bob’s hands, the question at the heart of CHAINED isn’t whether or not Rabbit’s going to escape, but whether he’s going to let Bob turn him into a monster. As amazing as D’Onofrio is, I was just as taken by Eamon Farren’s performance as Rabbit. He has that fragile look of a boy who’s grown up under the thumb of a monster, but there’s enough of a spark in his eye that you can tell he hasn’t totally allowed his humanity to be taken away from him.

Which brings me to the NC-17…

Watching the uncut version of CHAINED that played Fantasia, its obvious this rating wasn’t for violence. While it’s certainly gruesome, it’s no more violent than SE7EN, and a great deal less gory than any of the SAW movies. CHAINED depicts violence in a raw, disturbing way- which to me feels about 1000x more responsible than the way most horror movies try to make it “cool”, or even worse- “titillating”. CHAINED is many things, but it’s definitely not exploitation- and this rating is a joke.

As Lynch herself said in the Q&A after the film, the MPAA’s main complaint was that CHAINED felt too real, and truly- it does. It’s a raw, unpleasant film, but it’s also a very involving and fascinating one. While a twist late in the film felt a little tacked on- other than that, the film as a whole was pretty damn excellent. It certainly re-establishes Lynch as a filmmaker to watch, as CHAINED is obviously the work of a director that’s truly becoming a master of her craft.