Curse of Chucky (2013)
User ReviewsAdd a Review
It is hard to fathom that it was 25 years ago when Chucky was first launched into our pop culture references with Child's Play. Directed to Tom Holland on a story by Don Mancini, the 1988 horror surprised most everyone with a $35 million box office gross against a paltry $9 million budget.
Sequels ensued with Child's Play 2 (1990), Child's Play 3 (1991), Bride of Chucky (1998) and Seed of Chucky (2004). Through each film, the horror seemed lessened by the increasing use of black humor scattered amongst the bloodshed.
This is not to suggest that the Child's Play franchise lost its way, but it did veer off the original path. This deviation was not lost of creator Don Mancini who takes charge behind the camera for Curse of Chucky now available on VOD.
In this sixth edition of the evil doll's murderous exploits, Chucky is shipped from a police evidence lockup to a home of a young woman, Nica, confined to a wheelchair since birth. Chucky's first victim alienates the young woman and when other family and friends arrive at the house to comfort Nica, it allows for a higher body count and a night of mayhem. Nica is able to put the pieces together to eventually figure the doll at the centre of the bloodshed, but her limited mobility will be both a benefit and a hindrance on her ultimate survival.
We've come a long way since 1988 and Mancini has more digital tricks up his sleeve to bring the doll to life. Some might balk at the idea of a CGI motioned doll, but take our word for it, the added computer detail only adds to Chucky's evil looks. There are a few scenes where our villain gets to show real emotion using his rubber face and it is the technology that a lot of horror enthusiasts despise that is at the root of the improvements.
Mancini did go back to the roots with the story that focuses more on the development of the horror rather than the slapstick funduggery that overly consumed Bride and Seed of Chucky. Replacing much of the pop culture referencing in-jokes are some tense moments of horror and some valued kills that value quality over quantity.
Curse of Chucky goes places unexpected for a fifth sequel and it betters any of the films that preceded it in the series. Chucky is meaner, nastier and more patient which allows for better horror. There are some good scares in Curse and Chucky's evil might never have been better punctuated on screen. A solid story one with flashback ties that support Chucky's choice of family terrorizing and some after the credit scenes that tie in the rest of the series compliments the action and sets the stage for what we hope is the continuation of the franchise.
The Child's Play saga has seen a similar trajectory, with the 1988 original still standing as a horror classic, it's immediate predecessor coming off as passable but more or less a carbon copy and the third as a junky, bland mess. After a seven year hiatus, the surprisingly satirical Bride of Chucky arrived along with a perfect Jennifer Tilly as Chucky's partner in slaughter. Things again took a turn for the worse in Seed of Chucky which aimed to amp up the camp of Bride but it came off as a grating and, ironically, childish.
Almost 25 years on we now get Curse of Chucky, a direct to home video instalment a rather unceremonious release which certainly did not instil confidence in this horror fan. Well, you can consider my mouth shut as this is not only a strong, well crafted fright flick, it's easily among the franchise's best entries. Curse of Chucky takes the more gruesome elements that worked so well early on, some of the parodic flare of Bride and then even goes on to subvert horror norms and cliché. This is a film that knows firmly where it stands and the expectations of its audience and uses those preconceived notions to surprise in a number of ways.
The biggest and most pleasant realization I made from the onset is how well crafted Curse of Chucky is, from the art direction that brings life to your typical isolated home (at which our bloody events can transpire) the composition of shots which expertly use every angle in the book to bring complexity to the carnage and its generally polished look. It certainly doesn't bare any resemblance to most home video fare that looks as if it were shot in somebody's basement. But the accomplished aesthetics only serve as the launching point for some clever prods at the genre, some fun kills and a thorough grasp on its own franchise roots.
One of the things Curse of Chucky is finally able to figure out is how to present an adult protagonist that would believably be in peril when facing off with a pint sized doll. Our heroine comes in the form of Fiona Dourif, daughter of Chucky's voice, the iconic Brad Dourif (whose cackling laugh still brings a weird smile to my face after all these years). Daughter Dourif's Nica you see is confined to a wheelchair, putting her quite literally on even ground when the climax rolls around. There is a young girl about, who serves as the vessel through which Chucky's evil rumblings are heard, but this is more about Nica, and it all works rather well. In the end, it really comes as no surprise that this entry is penned and directed by Don Mancini who has written every entry in the Child's Play franchise. Even though he is so close to the series and its central character, he has clearly taken the time to step back and re-approach his baby in new ways. It's not something you see too often from someone who has been involved with something for so long.
Then we get the funny, subversive elements to the story which plays against our expectations, such as the role of a promiscuous nanny, who gets the knife and when and fake-out scares and potential deaths. Constructed in the way it is, Curse of Chucky should easily please fans of the franchise but also win over general fans of horror who are tired of seeing cookie cutter productions. There are certainly conventional elements at play, but it's all pulled off with a great deal of flare.
As for Dourif's Chucky, he's as vulgar, funny and creepy as ever, and even when delivering more simplistic lines reminds us why the character has persisted. There will certainly be some who will overlook the more clever elements of Curse of Chucky and hone in on what remains ordinary, but for me it was time well spent and easily introduces a new spark to the franchise and shows there is life yet in everyone's favourite killer doll.
Opening in a creepy large house (with its own Diamonds are Forever type lift), a mysterious death occurs in the first few minutes after a revamped 'Good Guy' doll is delivered. From the outset there's an updated excellently designed Chucky doll and Joseph Loduca's melodic eerie music score which sets the tone.
There's plenty of atmosphere in this installment from series veteran Don Mancini, with Curse sharing much with the Psycho films in design and pace. Brad Dourif again voices Chucky. The great one liners are fewer, a bit more poignant and cutting. There's a few relationship surprises and story twists. Web-cam moment, stitches reveal and closing are particularly memorable, also there's a great scene after the credits.
Some of the cast are debatably too polished, nevertheless, the horror elements are there and include the original mix of Nanny, young child and a killer doll. The child actor Summer H. Howell is strong and wheelchair bound Fiona Douif (daughter of Brad) is notable as Nica.
Many scenes are effective with inbuilt tension and jump scares, notably the shower encounter and dinner gathering. With lingering camera movements and interesting angles, Mancini also leaves plenty to the imagination as some of the set ups take place off screen, that said there are lots of effects, blood and gore on display - decapitation, an electrocution, an empty eyeball socket and an axe attack to name a few.
There are lots of nice touches that are fitting to the modern Chucky doll, that mirror today's toys, making him all the more menacing when he comes to 'life'. Pupils dilate, his eyes are bloodshot, walking and running - Chucky is back better, creepier and badder than before. For die hard Child's Play fans Dourif appears briefly in his serial killer Charles Lee Ray guise, some old photos and newspaper clippings feature Andy and scene's link direct to the first outing.
What the production has saved on the lack of locations, to it's credit, the money has been put into the excellent special effects. Mancini returns it to its Child's Play roots while making references to the rest of the series including a great cameo from one of it's most colourful characters.
It delivers with its back to horror basics approach, updated effects, Mancini's Hitchcockian execution and links to its previous counterparts. With this in mind Curse of Chucky is less likely to date than some of its predecessors. Recommended.
Nica's sister Barb (Danielle Bisutti) attends the funeral with her estranged husband Ian (Brennan Elliott); their little daughter Alice (Summer Howell); the nanny Jill (Maitland McConnell) and her friend Father Frank (A Martinez). Along the night, there are mysterious deaths and Nica discovers that the package was sent from the evidence depositary. She also researches the Internet and suspects that Chucky might be behind the murders.
"Curse of Chucky" is a great return of the franchise with a sinister history of Chucky. The cinematography and the camera work are top-notch and the plot is well developed. Wait until the end of the credits since the movie continues with a long scene; in the end, "play with this"! My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "A Maldição de Chucky" ("The Curse of Chucky")
I got the sense that everyone involved in this movie committed 100% to making an exciting piece of clever and entertaining genre filmmaking. The lighting, production design and music were fantastic and the cast equally superb. Fiona Dourif is an impressive new scream-queen/final-girl and Danielle Bisutti did a wonderful job as the somewhat-sympathetic bitch.
I very much doubt that Don Mancini will be winning a Director's Oscar any time soon, but IMHO he ranks higher than many of the past winners because I feel he believes in value-for-money entertainment - and some of those fancy directors could learn a lesson from him.
The fifth sequel in the Child's Play series comes to us Straight to DVD. Though the production value clearly shows it should have been a theatrical release. It also directed by the director of the previous films Don Mancini. Curse of Chucky takes a break from the constant humor of Chucky and brings him back to being more menacing and frightening. Without giving too much away, the script for Curse of Chucky really does bring things full circle for the series. Brad Dourif as always delivers his voice talents for Chucky. Dourif real life daughter, plays the lead Nica, and I must say she gives quite the performance in this, especially in the final act. Apart from the Dourif family, the rest of the acting, while not bad, wasn't exactly impressive. It has some very nice-looking kills, but some of the kills in the previous entries were a bit more superior. What really makes Curse one of the better sequels in the series is the final act, as well as the ending, AND the post-credits scene, all of which will surely excite fans of the series. I would definitely say that Curse of Chucky is my favorite in the series after Bride of Chucky, and is definitely a gift to true fans of the films.
My rating: 8/10