Thursday, August 9, 2012

''[Fantasia '12] Lonmonster's Mini-reviews #4: 'Chained'''


The 16th annual Fantasia Film Festival is concluded in Montreal, Canada. The festival is so packed this year that it’s overwhelming to even begin looking at the film schedule. The horror lineup spans across subgenres and budgets and this is precisely what makes Fantasia so special. Giving equal attention to major productions and low budget indie films, Fantasia has something for everyone.

In its 16th year, there are over 160 screenings during the three-week festival, and it would be insane to even attempt reviewing them all. I’ve been running to the various theaters to catch each flick, and I still can’t watch them all. Although it would be ideal to write full reviews, it would take way too many days, and way too many cups of coffee. What follows are mini-reviews on what I’ve seen so far at Fantasia 2012 including ParaNorman, Hidden in the Woods, Replicas, Chained, and Excision.



Jennifer Lynch keeps improving with each film she makes. Chained is not only her best effort yet, it’s a genuinely chilling, on-the-edge-of-your-seat thriller. The film follows the story of a young boy, Rabbit (Eamon Farren), who is abducted by a serial killer named Bob (Vincent D’Onofrio) at the age of 9. Rabbit is chained to a wall, thus becoming a slave to the malicious, yet oddly human, Bob. Chained is packed with disturbing visuals as Rabbit is forced to watch Bob rape and murder random women.

Vincent D’Onofrio is brilliant, and his acting carries the film. From his any town USA accent to his childish mannerisms, D’Onofrio delivers a bone-chilling performance. However, there are dull moments scattered throughout Chained. Once in a while, the camera cuts to what is supposed to be a hidden video camera inside Bob’s home. These shots add nothing to the story, and don’t fit within the plot. Ultimately, they take the audience out of the film, which is unfortunate considering how strong the mood is. The biggest issue with Chained is that Lynch sets up for a grand epiphany finale, but instead delivers an odd twist that doesn’t fit with the scope of the film.

This is a novel take on serial killers, and despite the unnecessary twist at the end, Chained will send shivers down your spine for the first 70 minutes. 

3.5/5 Skulls

''FEARnet Movie Review: 'Chained'''


By Scott Weinberg

Once in a while we hear a horrific story about a mentally deranged kidnapper who abducts someone, and simply keeps them. No ransom, no murder; just time spent as someone else’s plaything or reluctant companion. When they pop up in the newspapers, these tragic stories hit home in a dark, personal way. We ponder (hopefully for not very long) how we might deal with such a terrible ordeal, and it’s that sort of communal fear that always seems to seep into horror cinema. A recent (and rather solid) indie called Bereavement tackled this tale, and now comes Chained, the latest in dark genre fare from Jennifer Lynch, whom most FEARnet readers may remember from films like the absurd Boxing Helena, the amusing Surveillance, or the bizarre Bollywood import known as Hisss.

The dark and challenging (and occasionally dopey) Chained is Ms. Lynch’s most “complete” horror film to date, and while it does spin its wheels for a while, the loyal genre viewers will be “rewarded” with a stark, unpredictable, and frequently ugly rumination on themes like free will and morality. Chained is not a fun-time horror flick, and sometimes Lynch and leading man Vincent D’Onofrio go a little overboard from time to time, but despite some early misgivings, I found myself rather fascinated by this two-character horror tale.

Basically, a brutal yet clever psychopath (D’Onofrio) has kidnapped a young boy, but instead of demanding ransom or disposing of the victim, he keeps the kid (chained to the wall) as a servant. Time goes on, and as the kid grows into a willful teenager, the psycho continues to bring shrieking women home for killing. Frequent conversations between villain and his unwilling accomplice are, to the credit of Lynch and co-writer Damian O’Donnell, compelling enough, but they seem to get a bit (grossly) melodramatic as we start to learn the “reasons” for the psycho’s behavior.

When Ms. Lynch sticks to the morality play -- does long exposure to evil make you evil? -- Chained works, and although he could probably play an effective lunatic in his sleep, Mr. D’Onofrio does a fine job of articulating his character’s own logic, sick and twisted as it may be. Where Chained stumbles is in the tonal shifts. The flashback scenes and a large chunk of Act III seem a little more “traditional” than the more subversive and disturbing ideas found earlier in the film, but on the whole Chained deserves credit for trying to mine some relatively intelligent chills out of something different, topical, and primally disturbing.

''Don't Go in the Woods (2010) - Yeah, I Saw It''


Posted by Dave


An indie band with a loyal local following has high hopes of scoring a major label record deal. In order to push their talent to the next level the group adheres to (Nick) their lead songwriter’s idea to sequester themselves in the woods with no connections or influences of the outside world allowed to interfere with their creative process. No cell phones, no drugs (alcohol or other), and no women. However, a surprise caravan made of female loyalists causes tension between Nick and everyone else, but they are resolved to bigger problems as people begin disappearing and the woods begins filling with music and dripping with blood.

I only knew three things about this movie going in:

1) It was directed by the brilliant, STILL underrated, but much more appreciated Vincent D’Onofrio; still best known from his performance as Private Lawrence from Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, but gained wider notoriety during his stint on Law & Order: Criminal Intent as the genius, yet slightly unstable Detective Robert Goren. He’s also fondly remembered as Edgar from the first Men in Black film, the one who got possessed by the alien cockroach. Really, any role he’s in he owns it. Look up Vincent D’Onofrio’s movies and watch them; they’re not all great but he is always excellent.

2) The story centered on a band writing music. What kind of band? I didn’t know. The band could be classified as emo, which could turn some people off. It’s not my first choice to listen to but like any genre there are good bands and bad bands.

3) It was a slasher flick. Thank you, Zombie Jesus.

As I watched the movie, my eyes widened in no outlandish way upon discovering that this bare bones budgeted slasher film about a band in the woods is actually a musical. Not the type like Rock of Ages, which butchers rock classics by turning them into lackluster Broadway fodder, but the band’s music, which, if you’re a fan of the genre, is quite enjoyable; I myself liked the songs and I also liked that the music wasn’t limited to just the band members, even the women had their descanting moments. If you’re going to make a musical, go all out.

The acting was surprisingly decent. The cast was made up of locals, so the chemistry was comfortably authentic and reflective. D’Onofrio’s first-time directorship was a unique task to undertake but it seemed like he knew exactly what he wanted and he got it both in real-time shots and the music video portions. He kept it simple and it worked out well.

When it comes to a promise of bloodshed, I don’t care when it happens. You can spread it throughout the film or you can save it for the end, but if you’re going to save it for the end, I expect Hell to be unleashed on the victims. I will simply say I was satisfied with what was given, which is what I will also say for the movie as a whole. I was satisfied with what was presented.

This film version of Don’t Go in the Woods is not a remake of the 1984 camping slasher of the same name. Some fans, so-called fans, critics, and wannabe critics found themselves in a slight when they heard about a new version. They complained even more when they saw this new movie and discovered that it is a slasher musical. Quite frankly, they would have complained even if it wasn’t a musical because it would have been too practical and THEY would have expected more from someone with D’Onofrio’s cinematic experience. But, instead of actually trying to change the game they just complain about what other people do and how wrongly they do it because, again, it’s not what THEY would have done. THEY whine all the time about wanting something different or unique and it’s presented, THEY piss all over it because it’s not the different or unique that THEY wanted. Instead taking it for what it is, THEY trash it for what it is not. I took Dark Knight Rises for what was presented; a loud, flashy nonsensical piece of crap grounded so heavily in reality purposely by the first two films that it became a spoof of itself and wasted a great villain (kudos to Tom Hardy) by undermining him with lazy writing. I liked Vincent D’Onofrio’s Don’t Go in the Woods. It works as a fresh musical and an old school horror movie without trying to reinvent anything, just going with what works, having fun, and making the movie HE wanted to make.