The screenwriter and director, Jennifer Chambers Lynch, 44, daughter of Twin Peaks director David Lynch is not into “torture porn”. “There are plenty of filmmakers out there who will happily and effectively make 'torture porn'. I am not one of them,” she says.
Chained, her new psychological chiller, which has its UK premiere next month at Frightfest, has been described as the nastiest film since 1986's Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. It stars Vincent D'Onofrio as a deranged serial-killing cab driver, Bob, who kidnaps a mother (Julia Ormond) and her nine-year-old son (Eamon Farren). After getting rid of the mum, Bob grooms the chained-up son to become his protégé serial killer, in return for his freedom.
“The subject matter is upsetting, no doubt about it. It should be. It is a horrible thing, violence,” says Lynch. “When the project first came to me I was not 'turned on'.”
Instead, Lynch wanted to create a study of “how monsters are made”. “In my mind, real-life monsters are born of wounds: of sorrows. Of pains not spoken or healed. I wanted to promote a dialogue about child abuse. I did not want to excuse terrible acts, but to bring the human monster to light.”
What real-life events or films influenced her? “Everything I have ever seen or done influenced me,” she says. “Truly. The love I was given. The fears I had and still have. The questions I ask each day. All of them were part of my telling this story.”
As a child Lynch played a little girl in her father's film Eraserhead in 1977, then worked as a production assistant on his Blue Velvet in 1986. Aged 22, she wrote the bestseller The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer, a spin-off novel from her father's TV series Twin Peaks, about a girl who is abused and murdered by Killer BOB (played by Frank Silva in the show). Her debut film Boxing Helena, released in 1993, about a doctor who amputates a woman's legs and arms, in the hope she will fall in love with him, was slated by critics.
Battling spinal injuries from a car accident, she attended Co-Dependent's Anonymous for relationship addiction and gave up drugs and alcohol. She didn't return to films for 15 years until 2008's Surveillance, which starred Ormond and Bill Pullman as FBI detectives investigating murders. Hisss followed in 2010, starring Bollywood actress Mallika Sherawat as a snake who takes human form.
Chained is billed as a horror film, but it isn't one. “I didn't want to make a horror film in the traditional sense of the word. It is a film about horrific acts and pains. To me, it is a different thing.”
'Chained', Empire Cinema Leicester Square, London WC2 (www.empirecinemas.co.uk), 27 August, 3.15pm. (www.frightfest.co.uk)