SITGES PT. IV: CHAINED, Jennifer Lynch (2012)
After the previous posts talking about films I didn’t feel passionate for, now it’s time to focus on those which fully earned my respect and recognition. Not only mine by the jury at different categories, which make me feel better meaning my taste and judgment is not so crappy as I might have thought.
Chained was one of the main movies I wanted to watch badly for many reasons. On one hand because Jennifer Lynch is David’s daughter, second because I had recently revisited Surveillance, the film which also awarded in Sitges 4 years ago, and I still enjoyed it, and because disturbing Vincent D’Onofrio was the main actor.
In the era of downloadings and streaming, and because Spain is at the back of the queue in screening speaking terms, there were people who had already watched. A wide range of opinions was floating, and I decided not to take them for granted.
Chained was the first movie in Sitges, and was also the first time I attended a screening with the director introducing the film to the audience. Jennifer Lynch explained the film was about how real monsters are made, and finished asking people to medidate on how we raise our kids nowadays, implying the importance of behavior and discipline, and other concepts she left open to our thinking.
On any random Saturday evening, Sarah (Julia Ormond) and his 9 year-old son Tim, take a cab to get back from the mall, after her husband insists them not to take the bus for not being safe. At some point Sarah panics when trying to stop the cab driver, who’s completely diverted from the route and is taking them to a house in the middle of nowhere.
Bob (Vincent D’Onofrio) tortures and brutally kills her, and adopts Tim, renamed as Rabbit, as his slave, after apologizing for not being part of the plan. He will have to do the cleaning, serve him the food, update the newspaper clippings album with stuff related to his victims, and many other terrible things. One word, one forbidden action, and he’ll be fucked up. The servant is watched and recorded by hidden cameras so Bob knows what he does all the time. in a moment of desperation, Rabbit tries to get away but his master is waiting for him, and his punishment will mean carrying a long and heavy chain round his ankle for many years.
Rabbit (Eamon Farren) grows up, and Bob, who is keeping his routine of abducting young girls for his feast of sex, torture and murder, starts thinking of the teenager as his successor, and starts educating him and giving him more privileges. Should he follow the steps of his master? Should he rebel against evil? Raised in an environment of horror, murder and insanity, there aren’t many options.
Disturbing, claustrophobic, insane, terrifying… Lynch was right about the making of monsters. A kid raised cleaning blood puddles, burying corpses of the young victims, being conscious of being locked up while his dad is looking for him, and serving the serial killer who killed his mother… He’s to be stigmatized for life, probably developing all kind of mental issues, and the question of following the pattern he’s been witnessing for so long time, well, seems hard to escape from that fate.
Regarding the reflection on how to raise children, you’ll see and understand what she meant. At the end of the day, children are information sponges, and everything they see, especially if impressive, remains in their memories forever.
The basis of Chained is the relationship between the serial killer and the kid. There are brief characters, which end up buried under the house. It’s outstanding the tension between them, the evolution of both characters after so many years, and the final kind of tenderness Bob feels towards Rabbit, thinking of him as part of him.
Vincent D’Onofrio is disturbing. It’s impossible not to remember him as Pvt. Gome Pyle in Full Metal Jacket, the agony of being bullied and fucked up by his instructor till he blows his head. I can’t forget his face. This time he’s this cab driver, who abducts girls, tortures them and finally kills them. Why? As usual it has to be with childhood trauma. Growing in certain conditions can be mind overwhelming and he just became a serial killer, with the perfect system, starting with his job and the car, to fulfill his needs with total impunity. Bob’s personality and life is absolutely plain except for his secret. Doesn’t talk to much, doesn’t have vices, it’s a very square and monotonous, and hasn’t any passions or hobbies. He’s a grey guy.
What about Rabbit? He’s deprived of any self-thinking, he’s locked down and chained, he cannot talk unless asked, he cannot eat until Bob has finished his meal, and once he’s done he will have the leftovers…when his Master gives him anatomy books to study, he just devours them. He doesn’t want to end as his “stepfather”, but it’s difficult to rebel against the one who’s got the power. How long will he manage to stand firm?
I’m sure Chained is the kind of film which will not leave you indifferent, it’s impossible. It reflects this type of horror which could be real, or at least its origin is too common nowadays. The conclusion of the film left me speechless too. I was in shock.
If you watch it, be in the mood for feeling uneasy, because you will for sure. Still, Chained is a good film supported with great performances and the suffocating atmosphere created. Jennifer Lynch, well done!