Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 37 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for Bloody Horror Violence, and for Language
Directed by: Don Mancini
Written by: Don Mancini
Starring: Brad Dourif, Fiona Dourif, Danielle Bisutti, Brennan Elliott, Maitland McConnell & Chantal Quesnelle
I can openly admit that none of the movies are great, but the CHILD’S PLAY series has a place close to my heart. I found that while other slasher franchises got stale or repetitive, Don Mancini (who’s written the series from the very beginning) has always found a way to take Chucky in interesting directions. Let me run a quick recap of how this concept has stayed entertaining for 25 years! The first film is essentially just a slasher with a killer doll and it’s a fun cheesy 80’s horror flick. The second is a very enjoyable sequel that follows in the logical aftermath of the first film. The third takes place at a military academy and while the weakest of the series, it’s still enjoyable. BRIDE introduced a dark humor element to the mix and wound up being a memorable piece of horror-comedy. The much maligned SEED followed, but I still found this to be a fun piece of camp, even though it sometimes got too over-the-top for its own good. With CURSE, Mancini has taken the series back to the horror roots and made a genuinely creepy thrill-ride that is a blast to sit through. It’s not great, but CURSE OF CHUCKY is a very fun film and winds up being the second-best in the entire franchise (right behind the first CHILD’S PLAY).
Nica is a paraplegic living with her paranoid mother in their isolated run-down mansion. One day, a mysterious box arrives in the mail. In the package, lies the cursed doll that we all know and love. Less than 5 minutes into the film, Nica’s mother lies dead of an apparent suicide, while the Chucky doll ominously sits in the corner. It doesn’t take a hardened horror fanatic to guess what really happened and who’s really the culprit. Nica’s dysfunctional family consisting of her sister, her brother-in-law, her niece (Alice), a nanny, and an unwelcome priest, make their way into the mansion for the funeral arrangements. Turns out that the problems only began with her mother dying, because her sister is a conniving bitch, while her brother-in-law is eyeing the nanny with possibly impure thoughts in mind. While all this drama is going on, Chucky befriends young Alice and becomes her “friend to the end.” Without retreading too much familiar territory, the film then proceeds with Chucky executing a calculated plan to murder each and every member of the family, while Nica tries to find out a reason why he wants them dead.
CURSE OF CHUCKY is connected to the previous films in the series in many ways and performs fan service by directly linking to the original in a somewhat surprising way (though I had kind of guessed why Chucky wanted to kill them all). We do see Brad Dourif as the serial killer, Charles Lee Ray, before he possessed the body of the Good Guy doll. There are also a couple of cameos (including a great bit after the credits finish rolling) that will make fans grin ear to ear. I certainly felt like cheering after the fantastic end-credits sequence. If you haven’t seen the previous films, then you might not dig CURSE OF CHUCKY as much as a fan of the series would. As a sequel, especially a direct-to-video one, this film holds its ground.
Speaking of which, there is no earthly reason why CURSE OF CHUCKY should be going the direct-to-disc route. The production values, acting, and (most of) the effects are all top-notch. There was clearly care and heart put into this sixth entry in a well-known franchise. Unlike HELLRAISER or CHILDREN OF THE CORN, the CHILD’S PLAY films have never really stopped drawing in their target audience. If there’s any horror series that should be hitting direct-to-video, it’s those terrible RESIDENT EVIL films. There is no justice in the cinematic world for great horror films. This is the same world we speak of where MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN gets dumped into 100 discount theaters on its opening weekend and TRICK ‘R TREAT gets shelved for two years and then shoved onto DVD with little-to-no promotion. It’s a bit disheartening when YOU’RE NEXT is the only great wide-release horror film I’ve seen all year and it was an independent production that was stuck on the shelf for two solid years. CURSE OF CHUCKY should have been granted a bigger budget and currently be playing on 2,000 screens across the nation.
On the negative end of the spectrum, some of the CGI used to make Chucky move is a bit cheesy looking. The animatronics still look great and so does the traditional midget-in-a-suit approach. There are also a couple of minor plot-holes near the conclusion, but these are overshadowed by the simply dark nature of the whole movie. This successfully takes a character that had become a literal joke of his former self and makes him creepy again. This is an EVIL Chucky and even though he has a couple of lame one-liners, he’s fairly creepy. He has no qualms with trying to kill a wheelchair-bound young woman and totally uses every resource he can against her, manipulating little things that she really can’t do anything about. Talk about cruel!
While I won’t immediately side with everybody claiming that CURSE OF CHUCKY will revive the entire series and was fantastic, I will say that it’s a FUN time! The entire series (even when it was trying to be scary) was mainly FUN. Of course, the concept is silly. It’s a movie about a killer doll and it’s the sixth entry in a 25-year running slasher series. However, it’s a good time and I do recommend it for fans of Chucky! This is a good choice to watch this Halloween! Give it a look!