Opening the 2021 edition of the Canadian Film Festival is the new dramatic thriller from writer/director Titus Heckel, Chained. The film starts with a complicated premise that locks the film into a handful of locations only, the main being an abandoned warehouse, but also runs the risk of running out of ideas as they are locked into the central premise.
Taylor (Marlon Kazadi) is an abused young teen that discovers over the course of hiding from some school bullies the aforementioned warehouse with a dead body and a man, later called Jim (Aleks Paunovic), chained to a wall that appears to have killed him. Rather than tell his abusive father Pete (Adrian Holmes), a police officer that may not exactly be “clean”, Taylor decides to keep Jim chained up, feeding and watering him like the plants he grows in a private garden with his crush Nora (Leia Madu) until a revelation that threatens everything around him.
The premise of Chained, while helping to frame the whole story, is not unfamiliar to audiences. But rarely do films center an entire film around an immobile protagonist in a room, mainly because it can limit the script’s ability to expand beyond that premise. Sadly that’s the case here. As the script comes across as pedestrian because of its restraints, taking wild leaps in logic while hoping to drag the audience will along with it.
What saves the film from completely sinking though is a handful of truly material elevating performances. Marlon Kazadi establishes himself as a future talent to watch. And Aleks Paunovic further cements his reputation as a solid everyman’s actor. Plus Adrian Holmes is downright chilling in parts. It’s a shame the writing isn’t up to the same level.