Chained: Is the 2012 Movie Based on an Actual Case of Abduction?

‘Chained’ is a 2012 crime horror film revolving around a serial killer’s influence on a child he keeps as his captive. Cab driver by day and horrifying rapist and killer by night, Bob Fittler, picks up a mother and her nine-year-old son Tim and takes them to his remote house in the middle of nowhere. After killing Tim’s mother, Bob decides to keep Tim as his captive, naming him “Rabbit.” Over the years, Tim bears witness to unimaginable horrors while chained inside a house with no hope for escape. While Bob tries to shape the kid under his influence, Rabbit’s morals and innocence are tested to the limit.

Directed by Jennifer Lynch, the film keeps the audience doubting and questioning the extent of Rabbit’s righteousness by exposing the kid to overwhelming realistic violence. Due to the film’s crime genre and its exploration of human morality under excruciating circumstances, viewers might wonder about the story’s connection to true events. Therefore, here is everything you need to know about the origin of ‘Chained.’

Chained is a Fictional Story

‘Chained’ is not based on a true story. Screenwriter Damian O’Donnell first came up with the idea for the film with a much different approach and storyline. However, once the film came to director Jennifer Lynch, she realized the script didn’t work for her. Although O’Donnell created a powerful story, Lynch wanted to employ a different narrative as she felt the original story was too much of a torture porn film— something she didn’t feel optimally served the story. As such, she reworked the script, basing it on O’Donnell’s work, and crafted the film into what it ultimately became.

Discussing the same in an interview with HeyUGuys, the writer/director said, “I wanted to explore the idea of a real human monster. How are they made? The idea that something as “everyday’ and “seemingly safe” as a taxi ride could become threatening. That the pain we all experience guides us in our decision-making each day, making us either less or more empathetic. That’s what’s scary and fascinating. I love scary movies, but I wanted to deal with the monster who doesn’t wear a mask. He stands next to you at the grocery store, and you don’t know how dangerous he is.”

Considering Lynch’s work on ‘Surveillance’ and the fact that she went on to direct a couple of episodes for the 2022 Netflix show, ‘Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story,’ her interest in the psyche of serial killers is apparent. Through this film, Lynch successfully depicts the impact of serial killers on their victims without focusing solely on a killer’s story. Instead, it simultaneously explores the different nuances of morality. The 2012 film centers its narrative around an innocent kid isolated within a violent bubble alongside a perverted killer.

By doing so, ‘Chained’ raises the age-old question of nature versus nurture and delivers a layered answer to it. It presents morality as a case-by-case concept instead of a universal notion. Ultimately, the same helps it shape a realistic and authentic take on it. Moreover, the film’s dedication to portraying the killer, Bob (Vincent D’Onofrio), in an unsympathetic light in the face of his abuse further solidifies its sense of realism. Likewise, Tim/Rabbit’s character’s numbing transformation as a victim offers a bone-chilling reflection of reality.

According to Child Crime Prevention & Safety Center, a child goes missing or gets abducted in the US every 40 seconds. Although the details of these kidnappings vary, and many reports get solved within days, plenty of situations arise when children go missing for a long time. As such, even though the film is not based on a particular event, its primary premise of child abduction has firm roots in reality. Another testament to the film’s authenticity comes from the seemingly arbitrary fact that the film never got a cinematic release and premiered straight to DVD. Due to the film’s raw and realistic portrayal of violence delivered by Bob, the MPAA gave ‘Chained’ an initial rating of NC-17.

“They [MPAA] said they loved the film, but they didn’t think children should see it because it just felt too real,” said Lynch in an interview. Further sharing her thoughts on the same, Lynch added, “Apparently, it’s okay for teenagers to see girls getting their breasts chopped off and their heads lopped off if it’s funny and slick and sexy, but it’s not okay for them to see what real violence is and how hideously quiet and clumsy and haphazard it can be.” Therefore, given the film’s subject matter and its honest depiction, the story may appear to have a tangible basis in reality. Nevertheless, ‘Chained’ is only a work of fiction and is not directly inspired by real people or events.

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