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Film / Chained

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From now on, this is your world.
Angie: How long have you been here?
Rabbit: Since I was nine.

Chained is a 2012 psychological thriller written and directed by Jennifer Lynch (David's daughter) and based on a screenplay by Damian O'Donnell. It stars Vincent D'Onofrio, Eamon Farren, Gina Philips, Conor Leslie, Evan Bird, Jake Weber, and Julia Ormond.

Bob is a serial killer whose occupation as a cab driver allows him to abduct young women and murder them in his home. When a young boy takes a ride in his cab, Bob has a different fate in store for him: the boy, renamed "Rabbit" by Bob, becomes his personal prisoner who must not only help with Bob's normal day-to-day activities, but is also forced to assist Bob in his crimes and clean-up the carnage Bob creates. Several years pass and the now teenage Rabbit continues to experience death and suffering on a near-daily basis, but Bob begins to show care for the young man, treating him less like a slave and more like a son. Bob's motives, however, remain less than benevolent and being granted freedom from his captor will require Rabbit to do something he won't be able to come back from.

This film contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Abusive Parents: Bob (along with Brad) was horrifically abused by his father, including being forced to have sexual intercourse with his mother, which led to him becoming a serial killer.
    • As he considers himself to be Rabbit's true father, Bob also becomes one to his captive in addition to being an Evil Uncle.
    • Fittingly, Brad turns out to be an abusive parent as well on account of him orchestrating the kidnapping of his son.
  • Agony of the Feet: Angie cuts open Bob's heel, which later helps Rabbit gain the upper hand over him.
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: Unlike Bob's other victims, alcohol causes Mary to willingly come to his house and she remains oblivious to why she was brought into an empty room until Bob slits her throat.
  • Awkward Father-Son Bonding Activity: Some rather twisted examples. Bob and Rabbit play a card game, except the "cards" are actually the driver's licenses of the women Bob has killed and the game involves identifying their personal information. And they drive through the city together searching for a young woman to abduct and murder, with Bob even acknowledging he's happy that Rabbit is with him.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Brad. Initially presented as a family man who was an Unwitting Instigator of Doom when he insisted that Sarah and Rabbit take a cab home instead of a bus, it turns out that he was fully aware of what was going to happen because he hired Bob, his brother, to get rid of them.
  • Blinded by the Light: Bob is temporarily blinded when Angie shines a flashlight beam in his face.
  • Bring Me My Brown Pants: Rabbit wets himself while hearing Bob kill his mother.
  • Call-Back: Before Rabbit was abducted, the last thing Brad told him was to take care of his mother. Rabbit reminds Brad of this comment when he sees him again because not only was he too young to take care of his mother, Brad knew that they were going to be abducted.
    • When Brad subsequently attacks Marie, Rabbit is able to do what he couldn't do as a child.
  • Cell Phones Are Useless: Sarah's cell phone loses its signal just as she starts to realize that the cab she and Rabbit are in isn't taking them home.
  • Character Witness: Marie hides Rabbit's involvement in her husband's death from the police after Rabbit saves her from him.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Rabbit's knowledge of human anatomy allows him to stab Angie in a location where there are no vital organs, satisfying Bob without taking her life.
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best: Sarah is the only good parent Rabbit has and he loses her when he's nine.
  • Divorce Requires Death: To get rid of Sarah, Brad paid his serial killer brother to take her away instead of divorcing her.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Rabbit goes through years of physical and emotional abuse trapped in a home filled with death and suffering, requiring him to overcome Bob and his own father to escape the pain. He kills them both, but whether he actually obtains a happy ending is left open-ended.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: As badly as he treats his captive and murder victims, Bob does seem to care about Rabbit. Which might be because Rabbit is his nephew.
    • Bob also seems to care about his younger brother. The fact that he didn't cash the check Brad gave him to abduct Sarah and Rabbit implies he did it for his brother, not for the money.
  • Evil Uncle: Bob.
  • Empty Promise: While being taken away by Bob, Sarah insists to Rabbit that she's fine. She's not.
  • Faking the Dead: Rabbit stages the death of Angie by stabbing her in a non-fatal location to stop Bob from killing her and make Bob believe that he's become a killer.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Brad, whose front as a family man drops when he's confronted by Rabbit about what he's done.
  • Final Girl: Angie was kept alive by Rabbit, making her the only survivor of Bob's killing spree.
  • Gainax Ending: The film ends with Rabbit/Tim returning to Bob's house and only the sounds of him performing menial tasks are heard as the credits roll. Exactly what he's doing, why he returned to home he was held prisoner in, and what has ultimately become of him are left unrevealed.
  • Happily Married: Sarah and Marie are. Brad, not so much.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Bob pushes Rabbit to become a killer which results in him becoming the first person killed by Rabbit, as well as being stabbed with his own knife and buried alongside his victims.
  • Mama Bear: Sarah tries to protect her son by getting in between him and Bob.
    • Her effort is unfortunately in vain as Rabbit is unable to leave her before Bob knocks her out.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Bob has Rabbit educate himself in human anatomy so he'll know how to efficiently kill future victims. Instead, Rabbit uses his anatomy knowledge to save Angie by stabbing her where no vital organs are located, making it appear to Bob that he killed her while actually keeping her alive.
    • Additionally, Bob's attempts to force Rabbit into taking an innocent life instead results in Rabbit killing Bob to stop him from killing Angie.
    • And because Bob didn't dispose of Bob's letter, Rabbit is able to learn why he and his mother were kidnapped.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: For Rabbit, hearing only the screams of his mother as Bob murders her, helpless to save her and forced to imagine what Bob is doing to her.
  • Oh, Crap!: Rabbit's reaction when Bob says they're going to watch the video of Rabbit's first murder. The video footage will reveal to Bob that Rabbit faked the murder.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Rabbit is obviously not his real name as Bob gave it to him to demean him, but it's the only name he's known by throughout most of the film, to the point where even he treats it as his real name.
    • His real name is revealed at the end to be Tim.
  • Parental Abandonment: What Bob points out to Rabbit in trying to justify why he's the only person who cares about him. Rabbit's mother is dead (courtesy of yours truly) and his father has moved on by remarrying. And although Bob keeps this to himself, he knows that Brad, his brother, truly has abandoned Rabbit on account of Brad asking him to take Rabbit away.
  • Police Are Useless: The police are practically non-existent and Bob even mocks them for being unable to trace the disappearances back to him. Only one police car makes an appearance and the officer driving it goes past Bob.
    • The original script focused on two detectives tracking down Bob, but they were cut from the final film to put the focus on Bob and Rabbit.
  • Questionable Consent: Angie gives Rabbit consent to touch her body and have sex with her, but it's out of fear for her life and with the hope that if she gives him her body, he won't kill her. Fortunately for Angie, Rabbit doesn't want to take her body or her life.
  • Sound-Only Death: Most of Bob's victims are killed off-screen and only their screams are heard by Rabbit, with the sounds of his mother being murdered being the most traumatic.
  • Trauma Button:
    • Bob witnessing an abusive father berating and striking his son brings back memories of his own abusive father.
    • Returning to the cab he was abducted in triggers Rabbit's memory of watching Bob drag Sarah away to her death and later witnessing Brad preparing to rape Marie causes him to remember Bob raping his own victims.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Rabbit experiences the murder of his mother at age 9, is forced to live with a serial killer while chained to a wall for about a decade, witnesses countless murders throughout that time while cleaning up the blood and burying the bodies, faces efforts to turn him into a serial killer, and after all that, he learns his own father had arranged his kidnapping.
  • Verbed Title
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The fates of Bob's and Brad's parents are never revealed. The father may have been a Karma Houdini or might have been the first kill referenced by Bob.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Rabbit, in firm contrast to Bob and Brad. Unlike the others, Rabbit ends up killing to protect women.
    • He does stab Angie, but it's to save her life from Bob.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: While Bob has no problem murdering women, he spares Rabbit and keeps him alive (albeit as a prisoner) in his house. Although Rabbit being his nephew might have been the main reason why Bob didn't kill him.