In this startlingly original and deeply felt creation, Jess Wexler (Teeth) plays Mabel, a beautiful movie star “slumming it” in an outré art-horror film inspired by Tod Browning’s Freaks and being shot in a semi-abandoned hospital by an eccentric, Herzog-ian filmmaker (Charlie Korsmo, Hook).
“Bizarre and beautiful … has a strange, surreal and ardent sense of humanity.” – Keith Uhlich, Hollywood Reporter
Cast opposite her is Rosenthal (Adam Pearson, Under the Skin, who himself has neurofibromatosis), a gentle-natured young man with a severe facial deformity. Both actors have been hired for the way they look. As their relationship evolves both on and offscreen, Mabel and Rosenthal challenge each other to grow as individuals, while writer/director Aaraon Schimberg raises provocative questions about cinematic notions of beauty, representation and exploitation. The film’s striking Super-16mm photography adds a grainy, dreamlike quality to a film already unconcerned with following traditional narrative structures. During the shooting of the horror film-within-a-film that brings these characters together, the lines between reality and cinema are increasingly blurred, as the group of physically distinctive actors starring in the horror film begin to take over the narrative with a mixture of fantasy and storytelling. Surreal, moving and thought-provoking, Chained for Life is often very funny and always profoundly human as it challenges viewers to consider ideas of inclusivity and difference. (Dir. Aaron Schimberg, 2018, USA, 91 mins., Not Rated). Other festivals: Fantastic Fest; BAMcinemaFest | Arizona Premiere