Chained Blu-ray Review
Written by Joel Harley
Blu-ray released by Anchor Bay Entertainment
Directed by Jennifer Chambers Lynch
Written by Damian O' Donnell and Jennifer Chambers Lynch
2012, Region B, 90 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
Blu-ray released on 4th February 2013
Vincent D'Onofrio as Bob
Eamon Farron as Older Rabbit
Evan Bird as Younger Rabbit
Julia Ormond as Sarah Fittler
Conor Leslie as Angie
Jake Weber as Brad Fittler
After taking her nine year old son to see a violent horror movie, the world's worst mother flags down a dodgy taxi and gets them both kidnapped. “I've got a child back here, and you're beginning to scare the Bejesus out of him.” Well you should have thought of that earlier, shouldn't you?
The kidnapper winds up being Vincent D'Onofrio, an actor best known for the Law and Order spin-off Criminal Intent. Jennifer Lynch's Chained feels a lot like an episode of Law and Order or Criminal Minds, only D'Onofrio is most definitely not one of the good guys. He murders young Rabbit's mother and keeps the child as his own – adopting him as his ward, like a grubby slob Bruce Wayne who sits around in his underwear all the time instead of fighting crime. Bob doesn't so much have a Batmobile as a yellow cab, less a Batcave than a dirty kitchen in which he makes the kid serve him breakfast and scrapbook his crimes. D'Onofrio would make a good Harvey Bullock actually, when they inevitably get around to recasting the Batman franchise.
As Robin became Nightwing, so Rabbit finds the opportunity to follow in his own mentor's footsteps. Will the kid become a serial killer like Bob, or take the chance to escape from his captor? It's a difficult choice – Stockholm is more than just the capital of Sweden, after all. There are some surprisingly tender moments between the two, despite Bob's constant psychopathy and Rabbit's palpable fear of the big man. When Bob brings a victim back for the house especially for Rabbit, one does wonder whether the lad will find himself taking a leaf from Bob's book. It makes for some emotionally charged, very tense moments, superbly acted by both leads.
Chained is a far better piece than the last of Lynch's movies I saw, Surveillance. It's understated, chilling and very well-acted. It makes sense too, which Surveillance certainly didn't. I was prepared to dismiss the entirety of Lynch's career on the basis of that terrible movie alone (although Boxing Helena is said to be awful too) but Chained shows promise. However, much of Chained's success is thanks to its actors. D'Onofrio gives a very powerful performance as big Bob, making the character seem like more than the one-note psychopath he could have been. His stilted Arnold Schwarzenegger impression sounds odd at first, but it fits the character and personality perfectly. It's amongst the best portrayals of a serial killer since Michael Rooker in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. As his young captive turned protégé, Eamon Farren does well. The youngster is overshadowed by Bob's constant, looming presence, but he does a good job of selling his fear and awkwardness.
The serial killer's actions are unpleasant, horrible and predictably rapey, but not glorified or exploitative in any way. Like Henry and Snowtown, Chained is a dark and gripping take on the serial killer horror movie. It'll be too bleak and gory for some (it's more horror movie than crime thriller) but, as an addict of Criminal Minds and Law and Order, I wasn't too bothered by that. It may not be in any way revelatory or groundbreaking, but it has a clever story, competent direction and incredible lead performance from Vincent D'Onofrio.
If there's a weak spot (and oh my, there is) it's the ending, which should be heartbreaking and soul-destroying, but isn't. In fact, it ruins everything.
Video and Audio:
It looks as grubby and dirty as its villain. The sound serves to amplify the tension plenty, and the whole thing is worth listening to for D'Onofrio's oddly comforting voice anyway.
There's just the one alternate scene, in which Bob murders a poor victim in a slightly different manner to which it appears in the film.
*Note: The screenshots on this page are publicity stills and not a reflection of the Blu-ray image.*