Review: Curse of Chucky

2013/08/26 21:37:25 +00:00 | Becki Hawkes

Nine years after Seed of Chucky, everyone’s favorite flame-haired, dungaree-clad “Good Guy” doll returns, and this time round, he’s all set to massacre a brand new family. Directed by Chucky creator Don Mancini, this latest chapter in the adventures of Charles ‘Chucky’ Lee Ray marks an attempt to ditch the overt splatter-comedy of Bride and Seed, and return the franchise to its horror roots. Chucky’s back - and he’s scary again.

Fiona Dourif, daughter of voice-of-Chucky Brad Dourif, is excellent as the film’s protagonist. Confined to a wheelchair, paraplegic Nica lives alone with her mentally unstable mother (Chantal Quesnelle) in a large, conventionally creepy mansion. The film opens as Nica receives an anonymous package. At first, she’s simply mystified to discover Chucky inside – but before long, Nica’s mother winds up dead, lying in a pool of blood, in an apparent suicide. Nica’s overbearing sister Barb (Danielle Bisutti) arrives, complete with her family, including young daughter Alice. Alice soon takes a shine to Chucky and decides to keep him, with predictably fatal consequences.

The first half of the film in particular is a deliciously dark exercise in irony, playing off of the fact that the audience are well aware of just who Chucky is, whilst the characters have no idea what’s about to hit them. The fact that Nica is in a wheelchair is also a particularly brilliant touch, as it adds an extra layer of vulnerability to her predicament, forcing her to use an elevator to travel between floors. It’s probably fair to say that being trapped in a small enclosed space with a homicidal maniac doll is never an ideal situation.

Unfortunately, despite Mancini’s directorial talent, the second part of the film essentially amounts to little more than a decent run-of-mill slasher film, with Chucky cast as the killer. There’s little originality in terms of storyline, and while watching Chucky pick off Nica’s family one by one is certainly enjoyable, the film lacks the more complex, character-driven narrative of the earlier Child’s Play films. Perhaps the real problem is that Mancini’s film feels as if it was made with a pre-existing audience in mind. The film is packed with self-referential humor and sly nods to the earlier installments in the franchise, and there are a couple of cameos that will delight fans of the previous films. Ultimately, however, the film’s limited storyline means that it isn’t quite strong enough to work on its own merits.

In terms of Chucky himself, it’s reassuring to see that the film opts for mostly traditional animatronics, rather than resorting to over-use of computer graphics. In a question and answer session after the film premiered at London’s Fright Fest, Mancini explained that his decision to minimize CGI was motivated by the fact that he wanted Chucky to retain the same jerky, mechanical motion he displays in the earlier films. Mancini’s decision pays off: appearance-wise, Chucky is as creepy as ever, and the film maintains a real sense that the doll is a tangible, physical object.

While Curse of Chucky is unlikely to draw many new admirers to the series, dedicated Chucky fans will enjoy seeing their favorite anti-hero in a new, authentically creepy role. Curse of Chucky is slick, suspenseful and packed with classic “jump” moments, and Mancini more than succeeds in his aim of making Chucky a credible threat again.

Film Score: 3/5

[Editor's Note: Becki is covering FrightFest 2013 for us in London and will be bringing Daily Dead readers early reviews on a number of anticipated horror films.]