Anchor Bay has always been one of my favorite movie companies. They have long been associated with treating horror properly and representing horror with class. While they used to be known for releasing classic horror on DVD, lately their identity has been changing. Over the past few years they have redefined their focus on independent filmmakers and bringing new horror to the audiences that so crave them. At first it was mainly b-movie schlock, but as their reputation and attention to detail has grown, they have gained more and more incredible gems and supported indie filmmakers, giving them the chance to get their movies out there and seen. Now Anchor Bay seems to be on a roll, and with each new release they seem to be upping the ante on quality horror films. The latest is from filmmaker Jennifer Lynch, daughter of renowned filmmaker David Lynch, and is called Chained.
Bob (Vincent D’Onofrio) is a serial killer. He tours the city streets at night in a cab and looks for victims to bring back to his isolated home to torture, kill and bury. When he picks up Sarah Fittler (Julia Ormond) and her son (Evan Bird), they soon discover they have hailed the wrong cab as Sarah is dragged out of the cab and killed by Bob. After taking her son out of the car and chaining him in the kitchen, Bob tells the boy, who he renames Rabbit, that he will live there for the rest of his life and serve Bob. He will serve his food and clean up after his kills. Years later, Rabbit, now a teenager, has formed a strange relationship with Bob. Rabbit is now used to his life, but craves more knowledge and his freedom. When Bob brings home a girl the same age as Rabbit, intending his to learn to kill with her, Rabbit sees it as a possible way to find a way out of his captive life.
At first glance, Chained might sound a lot like another film from last year from director Stevan Mena called Bereavement. The basics of the story are the same, but Chained has a whole different approach and treatment of the material. Lynch treats her film as more of a crime drama than a horror film and it works well. D’Onofrio is terrifying as Bob, using a strange speech pattern and stranger body movements to make Bob an uncomfortable and intriguing character. We find out Bob was quite traumatized as a child by an overbearing and violent father, yet D’Onofrio makes sure to never take him into sympathetic territory. He is a monster regardless of how he got that way. Eamon Farren is excellent as the teenage Rabbit. He has a sort of Robert Pattinson meets Matthew McConaughey vibe going on with a very dark streak. He plays Rabbit very sympathetically, as it should be, but also conveys without words a constant stream of thoughts going through Rabbit’s head as he goes through the motions of his routine life of horrors. Jennifer Lynch, as she demonstrated with the excellent Surveillance, is quite the master of atmosphere. Chained is claustrophobic and full of dread, Bob’s house being as much a prison for the viewer as it is for Rabbit. The pacing is deliberate and methodical and has you always thinking something more horrible than the last scene is about to happen. This is just an excellent thriller and a fascinating profile of a killer.
As I said, Anchor Bay is on quite a roll with films like The Speak, Vile, A Little Bit Zombie, The Barrens, Cyrus, The Dead, Dear Mr. Gacy and many more. Chained is an excellent addition to this lineup and a film any genre fan should check out. Dark, disturbing and a fascinating character study, Chained is a keeper.