The Movie Waffler New Release Reviews - Chained / Excision / Grassroots | The Movie Waffler

New Release Reviews - Chained / Excision / Grassroots

Directed by: Jennifer Lynch 
Starring: Vincent D'Onofrio, Eamon Farren, Julia Ormond

With this being her third film in roughly as many years, Lynch seems to have fully recovered from the battering she took over her 1993 debut "Boxing Helena". Her films certainly aren't to everyone's taste but they're never less than interesting. "Chained" lives up to the promise shown in "Surveillance" and is her most accomplished work to date.
D'Onofrio has long been a favorite of mine and here he finally gets the lead role he deserves, a taxi driver who conveniently uses his profession to kidnap and murder young women. When he picks up Ormond and her young son, he kills the mother and decides to keep the boy as a slave. Years have passed and the boy is now a teenager (Farren) and has succumbed to Stockholm Syndrome. Feeling sympathetic, D'Onofrio decides it's time he let his captive out into the world but can only do this by forcing Farren to become a killer too.
Lynch creates a claustrophobic atmosphere and Shane Daly's impressive cinematography is reminiscent of Fincher. Despite the bleakness, there are moments of black humor, particularly a game of Top Trumps played with the driver's licences of D'Onofrio's victims. Much of Lynch's good work however is undone by an absurd final twist which the director claims was a creative decision forced on her. Lynch has most definitely stepped out of her father's shadow at this point and is now a film-maker worth keeping an eye on.
Chained (2012) on IMDb 6.2/10

Directed by: Richard Bates Jr 
Starring: Anna-Lynne McCord, Traci Lords, Ray Wise, Malcolm McDowell
Like a blending of Solondz and Jodorowsky, Bates' debut is a derivative piece of high-school horror in the vein of "Donnie Darko". McCord plays a despicable teen who displays contempt for everything and everyone around her. With a view to saving her cystic fibrosis suffering sister, she obsesses over surgery texts. In a piece of ironic casting, Lords is fantastic as her conservative mother but the casting choices reveal Bates intent to make a "cult movie", not something you can create on purpose. 
There are moments of bad taste seemingly designed solely for shock value, worst of all a dream sequence involving a microwaved foetus. At only eighty minutes I suspect there are even more atrocities awaiting restoration for the DVD release. No doubt this will become a minor hit among a certain type of teen, those who purposely exclude themselves from society in an attempt to appear individual. Grown-ups are best off avoiding however. 
Excision (2012) on IMDb 6.0/10

Directed by: Stephen Gyllenhaal
Starring: Jason Biggs, Joel David Moore, Lauren Ambrose, Cedric the Entertainer 
Gyllenhaal's film is based on the true story of Grant Cogswell, an out of work music critic who ran for city council in Seattle's 2001 campaign, his ticket a promise to extend the city's monorail in an attempt to make the city more accessible for it's working classes. As portrayed by Moore, he's an unlikable but enthusiastic presence with limited social skills. Running his anarchic campaign is Biggs, an impressive performance as a journalist recently fired from The Stranger for being too political. For the most part the film relies on the usual cliches of the campaign trail with our protagonists setting out with the best intentions but resorting to more and more dirty tricks as their success grows. Cogswell's incumbent opponent is a conservative African-American with ties to big business and the issue of liberal hypocrisy is raised in a way we rarely see with many white liberals preferring to vote for a right-wing black politician than the left-wing Cogswell who best represents their views.
Grassroots (2012) on IMDb 4.1/10