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Tony’s Review of ‘Curse of Chucky’

(Image via Universal Home Entertainment)

Yes, there is a new Chucky film.  No, it actually doesn’t suck.

This is the first, and probably only, time I will review a film that didn’t have a theatrical release.  But since Halloween is right around the corner and a horror icon has made a triumphant return, I figured it to be worthwhile to talk about Curse of Chucky.

A few years after the events of Seed of Chucky, a package is delivered to the house of paraplegic Nica and her mother, Sarah.  Nica and Sarah open the package and find it to be Chucky, in his pre-stitches form.  Not understanding the point of the doll or who sent it, Sarah throws Chucky in the trash.  Later that night, Nica finds her mother’s body, and Chucky sitting in the living room.  After the funeral, Nica’s older sister Barb moves into the house, bringing along her husband, daughter, and live-in nanny.  Barb’s daughter Alice takes a liking to Chucky and starts treating him like he’s alive, much to the confusion of the rest of the family.  After the tragic death of their dinner guest Father Frank and seeing an unfamiliar man in a home video, Nica becomes suspicious of the mysterious doll and researches any connections to the Good Guy dolls and their hometown of Chicago, bringing her to the events of the first film.  While Nica tries to warn the rest of the family of the dangers of Chucky, Chucky shows his personal mission to take out every member of the family, revealing a connection between their family and Chucky’s human life as murderer Charles Lee Ray.

Growing up and first getting into horror films, I actually watched the Child’s Play films before I ever saw Friday the 13thor A Nightmare on Elm Street.  Chucky had always been a frightening character to me, until the release of Bride of Chucky.  After the first three films, a purposeful shift in tone was used to breathe new life into the series, pulling back on the suspenseful elements and turning the films into horror comedies.  After the extremely disappointing Seed of Chucky, it was believed the Chucky series was officially dead, unlikely to produce another sequel.  It was later announced that two new Chucky films were going into production, a sequel and a reboot.  While the reboot seems to still be in the development stages, Curse of Chucky ended up being the sequel the series needed ever since Child’s Play 3.  Taking away the comedic elements, we’re finally given a new Chucky film that remains true to the horror roots, building the suspense by not showing Chucky in his animated form until more than halfway through the film.

The cast here does a decent job overall, with the standout being Fiona Dourif as Nica and Brad Dourif as Charles Lee Ray/Chucky.  Notice something similar in the names?  Yep, father and daughter.  Luckily, this didn’t seem to be a casting that was purely a nepotism favor as Fiona does a terrific job holding her own.  Perhaps she shines in comparison to the average performances of the rest of Nica’s family, but Fiona Dourif actually does a great job conveying that Chucky is a terrifying threat, something difficult for some actors to do playing opposite a two-and-a-half foot animatronic doll.  Brad Dourif has always been top notch in his vocal performances as Chucky, even if the overall film was hard to watch.  And this is actually the first time since the original Child’s Play where we see Dourif play the human version of Chucky, this time in flashbacks showing his connection to Nica’s family.  Even though the make-up is obvious in their attempt to make Dourif look 30-years younger, Dourif’s performance more than makes up for it, even showing a difference between the human Charles Lee Ray, and Chucky, who once did everything possible to transfer his soul into another body, only to decide that he loves being Chucky the killer doll.  And while the franchise never shied away from gore in the death scenes, the more comedic films used the gore to supplement the humorous tone, such as steaming and unrealistic intestines falling out of a victim under a glass table.  But Curse of Chucky returns to a more graphic gore, especially with a kill scene involving an ax that was so shocking it make my wife and I jump.

Its great to see Chucky return to a creppy look, even if the change in look is abrupt and harms the film’s suspense. (Image via Universal Home Entertainment)

Usually, the label of “Direct to DVD” is a polite way to tell the audience, “This movie is so bad we didn’t want to release it in theatres.”  But with Curse of Chucky, I can’t fully understand why they made this decision.  After the last two films it’s understandable that the studios would be hesitant about a new film, but after seeing the elimination of comedy and major increase in the suspenseful tone, violence, and gore, I wonder why a studio executive didn’t try to give this a full release.  Sure, this comes across as low budget and has some cliché horror movie moments, but overall we get to see a horror icon return to his roots, being a harsh and brutal killer that terrifies his victims.  The only major complaint I have about this movie is about the doll itself changing appearance from scene to scene.  It’s very apparent, even from the trailer below, that the look of Chucky changes throughout the film, going from the classic, lifeless Good Guy doll, to a creepy version of that doll with strangely longer hair, to a more recognizable look.  While a movie like this thrives on suspense and surprise, the moment the doll switches appearances in a single scene, it’s obvious that something is about to happen, taking much of the surprise out of the equation.  While one change in appearance is explained perfectly, the general change from Good Guy doll to killer doll is never done seamlessly.

Curse of Chucky is the movie that every fan of the franchise has been hoping for over the past 20 years, bringing Chucky back to his roots, bringing the franchise full circle, and (possibly) ending this story run on a high note.  Whether the studios are still considering a reboot remains to be seen, but if the studio has any sense, they’d realize they are on to something here and model any reboot or further sequel after Curse of Chucky, the best film in the franchise since the original.  And make sure to watch the film through the credits for a post-credit sequence that, if this is truly the end of the franchise, is the perfect way to bring this story to a close.

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