“That’s what people are; pictures on the outside, pieces on the inside.” Vincent O’Donofrio’s levelled, callous and sinister lisp leaves his audience left bitterly uncomfortable with his words. They’re a great marker for Jennifer Lynch’s 2012 film Chained.
On the surface, what lies at the basis of this plot is the abduction and holding hostage of protagonist Tim (played brilliantly by both young Evan Bird and Eamon Farren) but beneath this what’s at work is a piercing of some of our deepest fears about ourselves and society. Co-writer and Director Jennifer Lynch (Unboxing Helena, Surveillance) pokes at these undercurrents of anxiety as we come to find out more about Bob – this sociopathic, remorseless, sadistic character who from the very opening scene of the movie we are shown picks up young girls (particularly from bars and College campuses late at night) and drags them into his isolated cottage of doom. Eventually young Tim must make a huge decision about whether he will be a product of his environment or whether he has still managed to maintain the moral compass given to him by his parents.
And that is another question this film expertly raises: the age old nature versus nurture concept. It also raises the question about whether serial killers, rapists, sick sadists like Bob’s character are born wicked and brutal or have they been so badly brutalised that they’ve been turned into offenders and news headlines. And who are these people? Are they neighbours, businessmen, long-haul truckers, stay at home fathers and mothers? And it places a burden of quiet responsibility on its audience – what would you do if you were Tim? Would you try to kill him when you were old enough to? Would you try to run?
Lynch’s film resonates on a deeper psychological level; the cinematography is a treat of dark decor, deep mahoghany wood, the desolate landscape that make you immediately feel trapped.
I also sense echoes of inspiration on Lynch’s part. True crime such as that of Paul Durousseau – the cabbie who followed victims home strangled and killed them to the Amanda Berry et al case with the horror of thed along with Tim and his captors victims. I
All together, Chained is a true vision of art and the screenplay is a credit to Lynch but ultimately without the standout performances of the cast most importantly D’Onofrio and Farren a great script would have fallen flat.
Chained is available on DVD in the UK
And in the US: