Chained For Life is a movie about an able-bodied actress playing a blind woman opposite a disabled and deformed man in a schlock horror film. The film is obviously about disability, representation and cripface casting. You’d think with such an explicit message as its main thrust, it would be heavy-handed and obvious. Instead, it’s actually hilarious.
I’d actually say this is more a meta-horror. To me it was more reminiscent of something like Garth Merenghi’s Darkplace or Attack of the Bat Monsters from last year’s Frightfest. It’s more a deconstruction of a horror trope.
Disability and deformity has stood for inner evil or movement away from complete humanity since the earliest days of horror film. Disabled actors have been exploited as horrifying freak show spectacles to be used for shock value and jump scares.
As the able-bodied actors shoot their scenes, they don’t give much thought to the content. Yet when the disabled actors show up, that changes. At least, it does for the able-bodied actress playing the lead female role as Mabel. She gets to know her opposite, Rosenthal, played by Adam Pearson. Soon all the lines about him being hideous and how grateful he is expected to be for her kindness all sit less comfortably.
While I thought this was going to be an ‘issue’ film, I’d say it’s actually more a genuinely funny take down of one of the staple tropes of the horror genre.