Produced by Daniel Patrick Carbone,
Vanessa McDonnell, Matthew Petock,
Dan Schoenbrun, Zachary Shedd
Written and Directed by Aaron Schimberg
Starring Jess Weixler, Adam Pearson,
Stephen Plunkett, Charlie Korsmo
What is beauty?
Is it what society considers “beautiful”?
Or does beauty belong to us all?
Unfortunately for many, those not deemed “beautiful” or even just average in looks can never reach their full potential.
For those who are considered the opposite of “beautiful” are often subjected to abuse, taunts, a harder life and often times considered not even human.
Chained for Life tries to bring together the beautiful with the undesirable to question who is truly beautiful both inside and out.
To understand Chained for Life is to understand this is movie within a movie. Written and directed by Aaron Schimberg, Jess Weixler plays Mabel in a horror film that’s being filmed in a creepy abandoned hospital. In order for this actress to relate more to her character who is physically blind and blind to the atrocities surrounding her, she decides to live below her means.
In the movie within the movie, Max plays Mabel’s brother (Stephen Plunkett) and his nurse played by Sarah (Sari Lennick) who are violently experimenting on patients at the hospital. To add to the authenticity of the movie its Herr Director (Charlie Korsmo) cast “freaks” as the hospital patients, including Rosenthal (Adam Pearson), a man with a facial deformity to play Mabel’s love interest. Since Mabel allows herself to live as a “freak” is quickly bonds with Rosenthal and the two are instantly attracted to each other both on and off set.
While onset the “freaks” are treated with love and respect, however, once filming stops so does their positive treatment. The “normal” actors enjoy a life of easy with an actual hotel room to sleep in, while the “freaks” must stay at the abandoned hospital to sleep on cots. Made-up excuses are used to justify this separation like the lack of “handicap accessible rooms” and the “equipment needing to be protected”. However, the “freaks” never let their mistreatment get them down and as they find ways in the hospital to enjoy themselves, including making their own set of mini-movies.
As filming continues Herr Director becomes more evil, and tries to add to the shock value of his movie by treating the “freaks” as less than human and at times the movie becomes uncomfortable to watch. The disconnect between the “freaks” and those considered “beautiful” is astonishing as both parties accepts this grow level of mistreatment.
Chained for Life is hard to watch and rather confusing.
However, it’s a powerful movie highlighted the best and the worst of humanity. Beautifully filmed, there are moments with the “freaks” showing the audience how we’re all connected no matter how we look on the outside. Rosenthal is passionate and expressive. Longing to be a waiter, he just wants to be accepted by society, a simple dream that seem impossible. Despite his treatment, he never allows himself to become negative. It is with the love and support of Mabel that creates their bond, their feeling of equality that draws the audience into their storyline.
Blurring the lines between fantasy and reality, Chained for Life is not for everyone. However, the audience is able to feel the effort and heart each cast member poured into this film to help create a message that’s much-needed in today’s society: sensitivity.
It’s often hard to remember there’s more to a person than their looks and if society is able to look pass this, they’ll see they’ll see there’s a lot more commonality with each other than what is assumed.