Don’t go into Chained expecting a horror movie or a torture porn flick even though it’s about a serial killer who picks up women in a taxi, brings them home, kills them, and then buries them in his basement.
The truly horrifying thing about this film is that it maps out how a psycho can kidnap a young person and keep him imprisoned and enslaved for years. See, the focus here is not on the killer’s female victims, but a little 9-year-old boy he kidnaps and chains up in his home.
From the moment the killer (brilliantly played by Vincent D’Onofrio of Law & Order: Criminal Intent) drags the little boy into his home and lays down the law of how the rest of the boy’s life will play out, your stomach sinks. And the one attempt the boy makes to escape shows just how sadistic the killer can be when the boy disobeys.
Yet even though the boy’s job is to keep the house spotless, wait on the killer hand and foot, and help the killer clean up after he brings home his victims, this isn’t about the brutality towards the women. It’s about how easily a young mind can be manipulated into complete submission. As the boy grows, his relationship with the killer becomes a grotesque combination of abusive, fatherly, and homoerotic master-servant/daddy-boy.
Not to say that there’s any sexual abuse, because there isn’t (the most sexually inappropriate thing the man does is make the boy give him sponge baths). In fact, what we get is a portrait of a man who loathes women and wants to pass that hatred on to the boy even as he’s introducing him to sex with a woman.
No fast-paced slaughterfest here. This is a tragically sad drama about hopelessness. It isn’t until the final half hour of the film that we have even more emotions sucked out of us through a series of events that brings things to a terrifying, suspenseful climax.
But it’s the mind-blowing twist at the end of this film that will make your heart break. There’s just no way to see this one coming. The funny thing is, what got me interested in seeing Chained was the inclusion of scream queen Gina Philips (of Jeepers Creepers) in the cast, but she only appears in the last 10 minutes of the film. And in those ten minutes, she does a phenomenal job of establishing her uncomfortable yet understanding role in this horrible situation.
Chained isn’t a horror movie. It’s not a Gina Philips scream queen flick. It’s not a movie you’ll want to see more than once. But if you can handle the heavy subject matter, it is a movie that will have a profound effect on you. And it sure as hell will make anyone with a child never want to let that child out of their sight again.