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Jennifer Lynch’s Serial Killer Meets Rabbit Horror ‘Chained’(2012)

Vincent D’onofrio, Julia Ormond and Eamon Farren mine serial killer madness and regrettably slip under the radar in this 2012 DVD release from Anchor Bay and Madman Entertainment (NZ).

You can see his influence seeping into frame from the very earliest scenes of Jennifer Lynch’s 2012 contribution to the serial killer canon, Chained. It is hefty baggage to carry and must surely weigh on Lynch the Younger (Boxing Helena, Surveillance, Hisss) every time she arrives on set, edits and prepares her latest film for release and then finally sits before her next relentlessly probing interviewer -  a familiar phantom ever at her side.

The specter of her father, David Lynch (Eraserhead, Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet, Lost Highway, Mulholland Drive) must be made all the more intimidating by the fact that he still resides very much among the living. He has not officially retired, nor has he shuffled permanently aboard the next leaving transcendental plane. He is yet to leave both his daughter, and others who crave the juicy nuances of his masterfully weird body of work, the final chapters of what is a vast contribution to the cinema of the maligned and majestically off kilter.

But, although comparison is inevitable, Jennifer Lynch’s work here appears to embrace the flavors of her father’s previous work, rather than simply mimicking them. This as she prods around in the sub-basement of her films desolate heart, rummaging and exploring for the roots from which evil here so horrifically sprouts.

The nature versus nurture conundrum, a thematic undercurrent that tugs at the audience and tempts them into armchair analysis of the films worth, or indeed worthlessness, offers no easy answers and is made frustratingly ambiguous here by the mesmerizing acting talents of its leads: Vincent D’Onofrio (Full Metal Jacket, Kill the Irishman) and little known (a fact that is surely to change) Australian actor Eamon Farren (The Pacific, Red Dog, Careless Love).

Chained: Synopsis

The film centers upon the life and crimes of cab driver and sometimes serial killer, Bob (Vincent D’Onofrio). He is very much the loner though his icy and lumbering desire to gather victims from the late-night streets along which his cab so inconspicuously crawls is very soon given fresh meaning with the arrival of a young boy.

Tim (Eamon Farren) or ‘Rabbit’ as he is soon to be dubbed, crashes into Bobs closed and windowless world as if he were a kitten thrown into the lair of ravenous dog. But rather than devour Rabbit, Bob decides instead to train and sculpt this young mind into an exactingly twisted reflection of his own.

By focusing on the films two leads - the police and any notion that the heinous deeds being perpetuated here are ever likely to be discovered are nowhere to be seen - Jennifer Lynch draws us into the hopelessness and numbing claustrophobia that grips her poor Rabbit. It is a world rife with extreme physical violence, a fact that Lynch invariably implies, rather than rolling out these darkest of crimes for all to see.

The horrors that linger derive directly from the resultant slow mental collapse of ‘both’ characters and illustrate chillingly just how the most binding chains need not be formed from loops of rusting steel.

Some will, and have, questioned the validity of the films admittedly hurried and loose-end tying finale. It won’t suit all, but it is far from disastrous. Also stay tuned for the music-less credit-roll and the heart breaking sounds of nothingness that linger just below this bleak final slice of Lynchian ambiguity.

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