"This is how real-life monsters are made,” Jennifer Chambers Lynch (daughter of David, director of Boxing Helena ) has said of her latest feature.
Inviting comparison with the appalling (but excellent) paedophile drama Michael and Austrian woman Natascha Kampusch’s eight-year abduction, it certainly makes for a traumatic watch.
Leaving concerned dad (Jake Weber) at home, young Rabbit (Evan Bird) and his mother (Julia Ormond) head out to the cinema, promising to take a taxi back.
Unfortunately, it belongs to Bob (Vincent D’Onofrio), who kills her and kidnaps him before chaining him as a slave.
It isn’t the last time Bob brings women home, and as the years pass, Bird matures into actor Eamon Farren, the servant inexorably becoming the apprentice.
Replete with sick little details, such as Bob playing Top Trumps with his victims’ driving licences, Chained largely avoids the hypocrisies of torture porn in favour of tense, character-based horror.
Rabbit’s path from sins of omission to sins of commission is expertly acted, with D’Onofrio on unsettling form – although there is a nagging sense that Bob remains less than the sum of his parts.
Monosyllabic, overweight and itchy in his own skin, he’s every redneck killer we’ve ever met, with a modified house that screams “kidnapper” and a backstory so broadly sketched as to be redundant.
A four-star movie right up until the coda, what ultimately lets Chained down is a resolution so infuriatingly stupid it leaves us with a textbook account of how movie monsters are made.
But then, you knew that already.
Ripped from the headlines, Lynch’s disturbing portrait of a serial killer is let down at the last by a conclusion that clumsily unpicks everything we’ve invested in.
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