Directed by Don Mancini
Starring Fiona Dourif, Brad Dourif and Danielle Bisutti
Available on Blu-Ray, DVD and RedBox
I’m kind of an odd fan of the Child’s Play films. While I don’t own any Chucky merchandise, I can actually appreciate the films. I believe the first three Child’s Play movies are all quite good, which is rare for any slasher horror franchise. Bride of Chucky was an odd film, that came at a time when the modern horror movie monsters were dying off. Bride of Chucky reinvented Chucky and made him a bigger star than he had ever been before. It was a brilliant move by Don Mancini and it cemented Chucky among the top tier of slasher icons. Unfortunately it came at the cost of Chucky no longer being “scary”. Seed of Chucky followed and arguably should have been the death of the franchise. Seed played up on the elements that made Bride funny, but took them too far and ultimately ended up with a movie that was neither funny nor scary.
When Curse of Chucky was announced for direct-to-video, I didn’t put much stock into it. Seeing it released this past week, I decided to give it a watch. Some have called this a “soft reboot” but it’s definitely a direct sequel, actually tying this film to every one before it. Granted it doesn’t spend much time focusing on it, but it definitely is more tied to Child’s Play than the last few efforts. What’s so amazing about this movie, is that it manages to capture the spirit of the old Child’s Play movies and taps into some very scary other areas, without pretending the last two films didn’t exist. Don Mancini has done it again, reinventing Chucky back as that scary doll gave you nightmares in the early 80’s.
Fiona Dourif stars as Nica, a paraplegic girl who is frustrated with her life living under her mother’s care. Her mom appears to be a bit unbalanced and shortly after a mysterious package arrives containing a Good Guy doll, Nica’s mom falls to her death. Nica’s older sister Barb (Danielle Bisutti) and her family arrive to help Nica with the funeral and slowly they begin to notice strange things happening with the doll. Of course, sure enough the doll is Chucky, who engages on a killing spree, turning the old home into a house of horrors.
What works so well in this film is that they don’t rush anything. We know from the moment that Chucky shows up that he’s a killer doll, but we barely see him move for a long time. This isn’t because there’s no budget like the recent Puppet Master films, but rather to create an atmosphere. It’s amazing that they’re able to do it, but they succeed. The acting is all quite good and the set helps play up the creepy aura of the movie.
For years Chucky was after Andy Barclay, so it’s easy to wonder why he would seek out this new family in Curse of Chucky, but thankfully all is explained in a rather well done backstory. Brad Dourif even gets some screen time reprising his role as Charles Lee Ray. Some of the story is a bit forced, but it works well enough and some flashbacks from the original Child’s Play film help set the scene. Dourif and his daughter both play their roles well, with Chucky causing menace to Nica on both a psychological and physical level.
I’ve heard complaints that the movie is slow, but trust me it doesn’t lack in gore. It builds up to a crescendo of violence that includes some of the most insane death sequences I’ve seen in any movie for quite some time. The kills are fun and unexpected at times. The special effects are also top notch for the death sequences, including some of the best fake heads that I’ve seen on film.
Chucky himself looks a lot different in the movie and sometimes from scene to scene he looks different. There’s a lot going on here with CGI, puppets and anamatronic parts. However, that’s honestly not any different than the first few Child’s Play films. In fact, the rather odd look of Chucky through most of the film is what makes him so damned creepy this go around. He apparently can go from being animated and alive, with bloodshot human eyes, to being a doll at his own control. Some of the most haunting images are just of the normal looking Chucky.
And there’s some surprises as well, that are a lot of fun. The ending of the movie is a little rough, as it’s not clear just what has happened to Chucky… But you’ll want to hang around after the credits for some bonus scenes. The Blu-Ray has plenty of special features, including enough “making of” stuff to be interesting, but not bore you to death. There’s also some cut scenes, that don’t add much, but show you that this could have been a longer film.
Overall: Don’t be put off by this being a direct-to-DVD feature. It’s just as slick and in some ways moreso, than the feature films. Chucky is back in a big way and I think there’s potential here for at least one more sequel in this fashion. It’s great to see another Child’s Play movie that isn’t played for laughs and it’s incredible that it was able to be done, given the last film in the franchise. If you’re looking for a fun horror movie this Halloween, Curse of Chucky comes highly recommended.