Chained (2012)

Horror, Thriller
Vincent D'Onofrio, Eamon Farren, Evan Bird, Julia Ormond
Bob, a cab-driving serial killer who stalks his prey on the city streets alongside his reluctant protégé Tim, who must make a life or death choice between following in Bob's footsteps or breaking free from his captor.
  • 18 Jul 2013 Released:
  • N/A DVD Release:
  • N/A Box office:
  • Damian O'Donnell, Jennifer Chambers Lynch Writer:
  • Jennifer Chambers Lynch Director:
  • N/A Website:

All subtitles:


Really Nice Take on the Serial Killer Subgenre7/10
Bob (Vincent D'Onofrio), a cab-driving serial killer who stalks his prey on the city streets alongside his reluctant protege Tim, who must make a life or death choice between following in Bob's footsteps or breaking free from his captor.

In the short time that Jennifer Lynch has been making her mark on cinema, I have grown to enjoy her style of film. At least, based on this one and her last effort, "Surveillance". I confess I am not familiar with "Boxing Helena". Her latest films are odd, but not absurd -- just odd enough to be unique and really draw people in by their novelty (a great quality to have). Here we have the serial killer story, but told in a very different way: through the eyes of a captive held for nine years. (Critics have said this idea was already presented in "Bereavement", but I would argue this is the better film.)

D'Onofrio gives a solid performance, one that may be among the best of his recent career. Trying to gauge his character is tough -- smart, stupid, slow? He is clearly clever enough to do what he does and get away with it, but his way of speaking clearly implies some sort of mental issues beyond the murderous intentions.

One could psychologically analyze Rabbit all day. He is the poster child for "learned helplessness", accepting defeat after years of beatings. Yet, he does not fit with the classic idea of Stockholm Syndrome -- he accepts Bob as his master, but only grudgingly so. And there could also be talk of nature versus nurture. Certainly, Bob is "nurturing" Rabbit to become a killer -- but will he accept it?

My friend and horror adviser, Aaron Christensen, had what he calls a violent, visceral reaction to this film and even had the urge to punch director Lynch in the face (particularly after she explained that the film was intended as a message against child abuse). For him, there is too much of a need for suspension of disbelief and this story could only exist in a "fairy tale" world. We are in disagreement. I have no opinion on the child abuse claim (though it seems rather strange), but I approach all horror films from the point of view of a fairy tale, more or less. Sure, this film was presented as more real than, say, "Nightmare on Elm Street", but I saw little need to pick out the plot holes -- some being so obvious that pointing them out is hardly a mental challenge (such as why Rabbit never escapes).

You may agree or disagree on the greatness of this film, or even have no strong reaction at all. I would be curious to hear more thoughts from people... I did not realize this film would be a conversation piece, but apparently it is.
The movie is a really difficult watch. It's not easy seeing what is happening on screen and is meant to be that way. Vincent D'Onofrio is mesmerizing (in a bad or a good way, depending on how you look at it). His character is more than despicable, but the acting is amazing. So if you know that, you know why the voting is split down the middle. The ending is not helping either with most people.

The director talked about the ending and there is a different version of it, if I got it right (extended), which I'm looking forward to see on an upcoming release. Though I do feel the ending I saw was very good too. It might take you back a little, but if you think about it, it does make a lot of sense.
A great movie with a huge twist.8/10
This film is well done. The parts are played well, and the movie is intriguing from start to finish. D'Onofrio is great as the serial killing cab driver. I think Jennifer Lynch has done a great job with the script and the actors. But after seeing 'HISSS', you hoped that she had improved, and in my mind she has done so easily. The story is very good too, I was watching wanting to know what happens with Tim. And then there's the huge plot twist at the end, you do not see it coming! It was what made the film worth seeing through to the end. If you're like me and love a good twist, then this movie is well worth seeing. So I give it a solid 8 out of 10.
With its sunny daylight ranch exteriors and sparse, sickly yellow interiors, Jennifer Lynch's Chained is not playing subtle at being a domestic dysfunction drama. But seeing how the film is also firmly exists in the gory serial-killer box, it is one of the more subtle and affecting entries in that particular sub-genre. This dichotomy makes the film a bit of an enigma, drifting between two radically different discomfort zones, but one that lingers because of it.

Tim and his mom (Julia Ormond, doing the director a favour here after knocking things out of the park in Lynch's previous thriller, Surveillance) get dropped off at the movies by dad. Living dangerously and in the interest of bonding, mom decides to let her 9 year old (at his request) check out a horror flick instead of the CGI kiddie movie. Catching a taxi home afterwards proves the real horror as the cabbie is quite unlicensed, and uses his gleaming yellow car as a way of getting easy victims. The cabbie's name is Bob and he is a serial killer. This is perhaps a nod to Ms. Lynch's father's spiritual serial killer of the same name from the Twin Peak's TV series featuring an isolated town and dead girls, for which Jennifer wrote the Diaries of Laura Palmer when she was a teenager. Bob takes the immediately suspicious (and immediately powerless) mother and son out to his isolated (no cellular signal) bungalow where he has his way, both in a sexual and violent sense, with mom but is at a momentary loss with what to do with a nine year old. In a coarse and lispy grunt, the cabbie tells the Tim, "She's not ever coming back, get used to it." And then he keeps him around to do the cooking and the cleaning - where the first job of non-indentured servitude is disposing of mom's mutilated corpse.

Bob is played by Vincent D'Onofrio, one of those versatile character actors who has been lost on network TV for some years, but has played everything from a struggling marine trainee (Full Metal Jacket) to Thor (Adventures in Babysitting) to Orson Welles (Ed Wood) to goofy alien antagonist (Men in Black) to a noseless thug (The Salton Sea) to yes, a deranged serial killer (The Cell). Here he is heavyset and brutish, no nonsense approach to life and memorable manner of speech. His father- son relationship with captive Tim is the heart of the film, black and twisted as it is. As several years pass, the victims (exclusively women) begin to pile up to the point where the two of them can play a disturbing game of 'go fish' with the collected set of drivers licenses. The film settles into the odd rhythm of Bob trying to remake Tim, rechristened him Rabbit, in his own image, less a slave and more an heir, and the nature vs. nurture conflict of Rabbit's unusual upbringing. It is rather heady and exceptionally well-handled stuff for what on the surface is essentially a one-room genre picture. This could have been based on a play. Maybe it was. Bob is nothing if not voracious in appetite, and things eventually head into icky loss-of- virginity for Rabbit, but the friction between surrogate parent and child - what the adult thinks is best for the child's future and how the child wants to take control of their own circumstances - take that Dexter. Tim learns human anatomy from books, but psychology from dear old 'dad.' Bob intones, "Listening is good," but fails to hear anything Rabbit has to say. Probably a common parenting error. He also offers, "Following through is the key to life," which is loaded with more than a bit of ironic foreshadowing.

If the film were content to stay with this tense drama, I would be proclaiming this film a minor masterpiece of the genre. But the writers (Damien O'Donnell and Jennifer Lynch), whether intending to really drive home the theme, or merely add an extra layer of clever to what is an oddly paced and low-key affair, decide to do some 'rug-pulling' in the plotting department that struck me as rather odd. I love the final shot and subsequent continuation of audio for the entire credit crawl, but the penultimate bit of extraneous family drama takes the film out of good stretching-the-audience drama and into bad over-plotted genre bombast. Even the former title of the film, Rabbit, suggests a more subtle and less pandering piece than Chained. As it stands, the film is very much worth your time, a conversation piece that is only enhanced by its NC-17 rating (apparently for 'realism' instead of the usual movie sex and violence) and when you get to the kooky ending, you can decide for yourself. The film stays with you.

Coming home from a routine trip to the movies, eight-year-old Tim (Bird) and his mother, Sarah (Ormond) are picked up by a psychopathic cab driver named Bob (D'Onofrio). It ends up being their last ride together. Bob murders the young boy's mother and keeps Tim as his unwilling protegee, making him clean up the mess following each murder he commits. After a couple of aborted escape attempts, Bob chains Tim – now renamed Rabbit -- allowing just enough length to move freely within the house. As the years pass, Bob starts instructing Rabbit, teaching him anatomy and human behavior. Now a teenager, Rabbit (Eamon Farren, X: Night of Vengeance) is slowly being pressed by Bob to start his own homicidal spree. Slowly but surely, he must soon choose whether to follow in Bob's serial killer footsteps or make one final, desperate attempt to break free... overall 9/10 it should have been released worldwide
Beautifully Brutal, Unrelenting.9/10
Jennifer Lynch has created something here that is nothing short of breath taking. From the tone and mood to the color and performances, this film is a must for any fan of dark reality. This film could happen.

Vincent D'Onfrio gives a brilliant performance as a serial killer with a chance to be a mentor to his captive. I loved this film, it is just so sad that Hollywood does not recognize films like this when awards come around. This film is honest, unrelenting and touching. This is how horror films should be made. Horror, not gore, not slasher. This film kept me glued to my seat on pins and needles wondering how everything was gonna play out. I was not let down. Jennifer, thank you so much.