Review: CHAINED (2012) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Review: CHAINED (2012)


CHAINED starts off with a bleak moment with a warm-up mayhem involving a frightened kid and a sadistic killer brought a helpless female victim back home for God-knows-what. Then the movie introduces a loving family, where Brad (Jake Weber) drives his beautiful wife, Sarah (Julia Ormond) and 9-year-old son Tim (Evan Bird) to a multiplex matinee. Before Brad leaves, he urges his wife and his son to take a cab back home instead of a bus. After having a fun time watching a movie, they are lucky enough to grab a cab within a short moment and decides to head back home. However, the cab driver named Bob (Vincent D' Onofrio) purposely misses their exit, and instead takes them to the middle of nowhere. Both Sarah and Tim starts to freak out and demands him to stop the cab. Bob ends up taking them back to his isolated ranch, and parks his cab inside the garage. As he locks the kid inside, he drags Sarah out of the cab and begins assaulting her. Once Bob is finished with her, he's back to the garage and drags Tim out. He reveals to him that his mom is already dead and he intends to lock him inside the ranch forever. Soon, he treats him like a slave (in which he now calls him  "Rabbit") as he will obey him whatever he tells him to do -- including cooking, cleaning and serving him. Then one day, Tim attempts to escape out of the ranch but Bob is always one step ahead and decides to lock him on a long chain.

Ten years later, Rabbit is all grown up as a teenager (now played by Eamon Farren). Bob begins to assign him to study on human anatomy in preparation for his first "taste of a woman". Bit by bit, Bob gradually treats Rabbit like his own son and wants to teach him the killing business he has been involved all the while. He often claims to Rabbit that all women he has kidnapped, assaulted and then killed behind the closed door, are nothing more than sluts. Apparently we also learn that Bob has a murky past of his own -- something has to do with a forced incest with his own mom by his sadistic dad when he was a kid.

In case you notice the premise sounds familiar, that is because writer-director Jennifer Lynch is revisiting back the same repulsive exercise in physical and psychological sadism in her highly-controversial debut BOXING HELENA back in 1993. Speaking of repulsive, Jennifer Lynch has certainly earns that particular credit for making the movie as depressingly bleak as it goes. Throughout the movie, it means to compel the viewers with lots of immoral moments that there are no happy resolutions at all. While CHAINED has its fair share of some unsettling experience, with a particularly creepy performance by Vincent D'Onofrio (more on him later), the overall movie is disappointingly redundant. The biggest problem of this movie is that the story keeps going around in circles -- we see Bob abducts, assaults, rapes, murders and buries numerous female victims over and over again. Jennifer Lynch never ever bothers to include her movie with necessary characters depth or plot development at all. Everyone and everything here are strictly one-dimensional until at times, it feels quite a butt-numbing experience to sit through. Yup, just like watching BOXING HELENA all over again.

Newcomer Eamon Farren gives a perfectly understated performance as a frail protagonist trying to cope a sadistic life with Bob. Speaking of Bob, Vincent D'Onofrio is a truly unsettling as a remorseless serial killer. No doubt his career mostly indebted of playing psychos and villains has made his unsettling role -- particularly his speech impediment and cold expression -- all the more frightening to watch for. Too bad the female cast, even for a cameo appearance by Julia Ormond, are sadly reduced to thankless roles consisting of struggling, screaming and bleed to death.

CHAINED ends up with a surprise twist that I didn't even seen it coming. Depends how you look at it, the twist is rather shocking as the story reveals the whole truth about the going-on. But a good twist is hardly matters if the overall movie is mostly an empty-headed exercise. Perhaps Jennifer Lynch still needs to learn a thing or two about making a movie that intends to shock viewers. Well, being shocking alone by stripping down to its bare essentials is hardly a worthy statement anyway.

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