Countdown to CIFF: #10. Chained
It’s 10 days to CIFF’s opening gala, so I’ll be posting a quick write-up per day on some of my favourite movies at the fest. I’m not exactly unbiased — CIFF does give me a paycheque, after all — but these posts are my own opinions and not those of the festival.
Alright, now that the disclaimer’s out of the way: Chained. I used to be a huge horror fan, but the post-millennial trend towards torture porn has largely left me cold, so I went into Chained with fairly low expectations. It took about 15 minutes for my reaction to change from “that main guy looks a lot like Vincent D’Onofrio” to “Oh, wait, that’s because it is Vincent D’Onofrio” to “I can’t stop watching this.” If I’d looked at the credits first and seen that it was from Boxing Helena director Jennifer Lynch, maybe that would’ve sped up the process.
Anyway. D’Onofrio plays a serial killer and rapist who takes home a woman and her nine-year-old son. He does what he usually does with her (off-screen, thankfully), but decides to keep the kid around as a sort of son/slave/pet. That’s where the film changes from a thriller to a character study, with D’Onofrio turning in what might just be his best performance since the first Men In Black movie (less showy, but with a lot of depth). It’s more about the power dynamic, the damaging effects of captivity and, yes, the desire for a legacy, but there’s enough tension throughout that the term “character study” shouldn’t scare you off. Especially if you made it past “serial killer and rapist.” Yes, it’s definitely disturbing, but it’ll stick with you.