Following the brutal murder of his mother, young Tim is held as a slave in a remote house outside a Canadian prairie town by a serial killer. Bound in chains, he is forced to clean up after each kill and bury the bodies in shallow graves in the cellar. When Tim reaches maturity, his captor – who has serious daddy issues – gives Tim the chance to gain his freedom, but only if he turns killer himself…
Jennifer Lynch got a critical mauling for her first film, 1993’s Boxing Helena, about a doctor who kidnaps a woman and amputates her arms and legs in order to control her. Having licked her wounds, Lynch returned after a 15-year absence with a couple of forgettable thrillers, but she sure has got her mojo back with Chained, a harrowing study of psychological manipulation and sadistic control.
Vincent D’Onofrio gives a career-best performance as the psycho taxi driver Bob, and his Jekyll & Hyde act of repellent sadistic monster, tortured soul and concerned father figure is genuinely frightening, which only makes watching the traumas that Tim experiences – first as a boy (Evan Bird), then as a teen (Eamonn Farren) – all the more poignant. While the twist end feels tacked on, Chained is a terrifying tour de force.