Exclusive: Filmmaker Jennifer Lynch on Human Monsters, Battling the MPAA for Chained and More
Last week provocative filmmaker Jennifer Lynch's latest thriller Chained, starring Vincent D'Onofrio, Eamon Farren and Julia Ormond, hit DVD and Blu-ray shelves everywhere courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment.
Recently Dread Central hopped on the phone for a brief one-on-one chat with Lynch, where we heard more about what attracted her to the project, her process for rewriting the script, the filmmaker's thoughts on the movie's co-stars and more on her experiences with the MPAA and dealing with an initial NC-17 rating.
Check out our interview with Lynch below, and make sure to check out Chained now that it's available on DVD, Blu-ray and VOD platforms nationwide.
Dread Central: Can you start off by discussing what was it about the story of Chained that appealed to your filmmaking senses?
Jennifer Lynch: Well the script was a lot different than the version you see in the movie; when the producers came to me with Damian’s (O'Donnell) original script, it was a great deal more violent and a slightly different story that focused more on the graphic nature of a serial killer, which felt a little too 'torture porn' for me and even had detectives circling around the killer following Rabbit's case.
One of the very first questions I had for the producers after I read the script was why they thought of me for this movie? Their response was that I am known for doing thrillers with violent undertones and they wanted to see what I would do with Damian's script so I took a pass at the script and removed what I thought was the gratuitous violence that really didn't do anything to make the core story any more interesting; it worked so well already and so I took the approach of dealing with the characters and more about getting into how the human monster of Bob is made. I wanted to tap into the emotions and get into how much more terrifying that can be because as a viewer, I’m more terrified when the killer is similar to me.
I also wanted to explore just why Bob was this way. What was his cycle of abuse that created this monstrous person who loves to kidnap, torture and murder young women? Where did it all go wrong for him during his childhood? I think that as a society we really have to stop hurting kids- it's creating monsters and ruining so many innocent lives. While I wouldn't say Bob is necessarily innocent, there was a sense of humanity to his character, mostly due to Vincent's portrayal.
I also explored the idea of nature versus nurture with Rabbit because he's sort of the opposite of Bob; he can rise above the violence and endures so much pain in an effort to hold on to the little bit of his soul that he has left after being held captive by Bob for nine years.
Dread Central: Let's talk about what made Vincent right for this role then; how did you approach him for Chained?
Jennifer Lynch: Vincent is someone I have always wanted to work with, and when I was going through the script, I could really see him in this role. So we sent him the script and he called me less than a day later. I think both Vincent and I are of the same school of thought where if something scares us in the right way, we realize that we have something to learn by doing it. He really goes above and beyond with his performance as Bob; had he gone too far one way, I think the movie would have suffered but Vincent hit every single note and nuance perfectly. I'm so in awe of what he was able to do with this role.
Dread Central: He has such great chemistry with Eamon (Farren) as well; did you have to work with them a lot during pre-production to flesh out that relationship at all?
Jennifer Lynch: Their chemistry was organic and instantaneous; that was all them. Vincent said after the first day of shooting that Eamon was just a powerhouse, which really means something coming from a guy like him; Rabbit hardly speaks throughout the movie but because of Eamon's performance, you can 'hear' him all the time. That's instinctual stuff right there- that's nothing I could have prepped him for as a director. His silence was often so powerful and then when he did speak, Eamon's performance just took those words to an entirely new level. I was so amazed by his work on Chained.
Dread Central: I know you guys had some issues with the MPAA and the film's ratings; was that the biggest challenge you faced on Chained?
Jennifer Lynch: It was and it wasn't; I actually had a lot of control on this film- I will say that. But because the film was presold, both domestically and internationally, I had not only producers' notes to contend with but also distributors' notes and even had to change the name of the film because they didn't like what I wanted to go with.
I thought this movie should have been called Rabbit- that was my title; I thought it sounded far more provocative than Chained did. Ultimately, though, what they told me was that they didn't know how to market a movie named Rabbit so we went back to the original script title, which was Chained.
Working with the MPAA wasn't terrible; they were actually very nice throughout the process but just unwilling to budge on some of the issues so I had to cut out a few scenes that I wanted in the film and make some minor adjustments. It really wasn't all that bad, but it was still hard to make those cuts because I felt they really belonged in the final version.
Hopefully those scenes will be in the director’s cut, which is something that I still want to do some time down the line. We originally had a director's cut budgeted for Chained but had to use some of that money elsewhere so I'm not sure if I'll ever get to do one but I do want to if the opportunity ever arises. Looking back, though, I really did have a tremendous amount of control, given the situation, and I am grateful that I was able to tell the story, as it is now. I do still feel very confident in this version even though it doesn’t include certain things; I think it’s a very brave interpretation of the story I set out to tell originally and am very proud of what we all managed to accomplish on it.
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