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DVD Review: Chained

February 1, 2013

Film + Entertainment | by Francesco Cerniglia

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Not being a lover of horror films, when I was asked to review ‘Chained’ I was a little dubious. Upon reading the press release though, I was pleasantly surprised not only to see it is marketed as a thriller, but also that it has received some pretty admirable acclaim.

The storyline is fairly basic – a young boy called Tim (Evan Bird) and his mother are kidnapped by a rogue taxi driver named Bob (Vincent D’Onofrio), who kills the mother, yet decides to keep the boy as his own personal slave. Chained up and under threat of being beaten, Tim (nicknamed ‘Rabbit’) is forced to bury the bodies of the other women Bob murders and keep a record of them in a scrapbook.

The film then skips a few years to Rabbit as an emaciated teenager (Eamon Farren), when he has given up all hope of escaping, and formed a bizarre father-son bond with Bob. However for the audience, there is always the knowledge that beneath it all, he still remembers the terrible wrong that has been done to him, as he shows signs of compassion and empathy, both traits that Bob lacks.

As time goes by, Bob believes Rabbit is ready to experience killing women for himself, and takes him on a trip outside the house for the first time to find him a victim. What Bob doesn’t consider is that though Rabbit has been held hostage for nearly a decade, he is an intelligent individual, who has some ideas of his own.

The first thing to note about this film is the quality of acting. Because the cast is so small, you can tell real thought has gone into the process of choosing the right people for the parts.  D’Onofrio is worryingly convincing as a serial killer, yet his range of emotion is so accomplished that at times you can’t help but feel sorry for him. Farren has a distinctly creepy aura where you can genuinely believe he has had no experience of the outside world, and is at a loss with how to act around people.

Another thing that is done very successfully is the portrayal of the psychology behind the characters’ actions. Through the use of hazy flashbacks we learn why Bob has become such a monster; and it becomes apparent that his decision to keep Rabbit alive acts as a warped attempt at his own redemption.

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On a negative note, what I would say is that although the twist at the end adds to the depth of the piece, it is introduced out of nowhere, and is quite rushed. Considering the film is only 90 minutes long, I think it could have been drawn out more to really amp up the suspense and make the final revelation even more shocking.

This film is worth a view as it is subtly complex, dark and thought provoking; even if it does make you never want to climb into a taxi again!

Sophia Miles.

Chained is released on DVD and Blu-ray on Monday, 4th February.