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'Chained' DVD Review

About.com Rating 3 Star Rating


© Anchor Bay

The Bottom Line

A dingy and uncomfortable but intriguing and ultimately satisfying film.
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  • Good cast
  • Good twist
  • Interesting interpersonal relationships


  • Depressing for stretches
  • Frustrating until the last 10 or 15 minutes


  • Starring Vincent D'Onofrio, Eamon Farren, Evan Bird, Julia Ormond, Jake Weber, Gina Philips, Conor Leslie
  • Directed by Jennifer Lynch
  • Rated R
  • DVD Release Date: October 2, 2012

Guide Review - 'Chained' DVD Review

When her husband takes the family car on a work trip, Sarah and her nine-year-old son Tim are forced to hail a cab after an afternoon out at the movies. Unfortunately for them, this cab is driven by a serial killer name Bob who drives them to his isolated home in the middle of nowhere and quickly dispatches with the woman before making Tim, whom he re-names "Rabbit," his slave. Bob holds Rabbit captive with a 20-foot-long chain on his ankle and forces him to cook and clean -- the latter a particularly gnarly chore, given Bob frequently brings home young women and kills them in the house. As years pass, Bob grooms the reluctant Rabbit to follow in his footsteps, and the now-teenageer has to decide whether to give into the darkness or to make a valiant effort to escape.

Fraught with behind-the-scenes difficulties and critical derision, two of Jennifer Lynch's first three directorial efforts -- Boxing Helena and Hisss -- can reasonably be considered disasters, so the bar for Chained isn't terribly high. I haven't heard of any lawsuits or production issues with the making of the film, so it's already a step up on those efforts, and thankfully the finished product is more in line with Lynch's enjoyable 2008 thriller Surveillance. The content is unsavory and occasionally depressing -- particularly early on -- so it's hard to call it "enjoyable," but Lynch (who wrote the script) creates an intriguing dynamic between the killer and his would-be-protégé, one whose narrative turns out to be more satisfying than last year's similarly themed Bereavement.

Chained threatens to become a case study in frustration as you wait for Rabbit to make a move to escape, but just when you're about to press the fast-forward button, it reaches a satisfying climax and even delivers a surprise twist that, while perhaps blurring some of the realism of the plot, nonetheless makes for a neat little bow on the story. There are questions here and there that pop up -- like, wouldn't a serial-killing cab driver be fairly conspicuous? -- but the provocative plot and a fascinating (in both good and bad ways) performance from Vincent D'Onofrio help keep the viewer from dissecting it too much.


Special features include commentary and an alternate scene.

Movie: C+

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Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the distributor. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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