Halloween Month: Curse of Chucky (2013)
**WARNING: CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS**
Prior to its Fright Fest Premiere back in August, I discussed both my interest and excitement for the new installment from the Child’s Play franchise, Curse of Chucky (2013). With any horror sequel, especially one derived from a long-running series, there’s going to be plenty of skepticism. Does the film need to be made? Will it offer anything distinctive? Will it hold up well with fans? On some level, yes the film was a welcoming addition to the series and ends Chucky on a better note than the atrocious Seed of Chucky (2005) did. I wouldn’t say it offered anything particularly new but it does work well as a suspenseful and scary horror film that does exactly what it sets out to do and meets expectations. As stated, this film was owed to the fans due to the disappointment of the previous film and there is a lot there to enjoy.
As Curse of Chucky is a new release I won’t give too much of the good stuff away but merely allude to why this is worth watching for Child’s Play and general horror fans alike.
So, Chucky’s back and meaner than ever! The tone of the film differed greatly from the cheesy, horror comedy of the Bride/Seed of Chucky sequels in favor of a more sinister approach. Director Don Mancini stated that his intention was to incorporate a different style in comparison to the previous film, and on the whole I can say he achieved this well. The prime setting is a dated, gothic mansion, complete with an old-fashioned elevator that looks eerily similar to the one that Frank-N-Furter makes his entrance in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), creating a set up for plenty of scares!
Nica (Fiona Dourif- Brad Dourif’s real life daughter) is confined to a wheel chair and has let life restrict her due to caring for her mentally ill mother Sarah (Chantal Qusenelle). We see glimpses of their strained relationship however its soon cut short by the mysterious arrival of Good Guy Doll Chucky (the vessel of serial killer Charles Lee Ray, who was gunned down in a toy store and transferred his soul into a doll- for those that didn’t know!). Nica discovers her dead mother and assumes it was suicide. We then meet the rest of the characters, her snobby sister Barb (Danielle Bisutti), she’s pretty much unlikable but there is an interesting twist to her character that challenges the stereotypical dominant career-woman/wife and mother who has a blatant identity crisis. There’s her adorable daughter Alice (Summer H. Howell) who does very well in the film for her age, especially acting innocently to Chucky’s crude manner. A favorite line had to be when she uttered “Chucky, I’m scared” during a storm sequence, his reply, “you f***ing should be!”, her reaction is priceless. There’s Barb’s put-upon husband Ian (Brennan Elliott) who may be more self-aware of his families issues than meets the eye, he also seems attracted to their Nanny Jill (Maitland McConnell) who is bizarrely being paid $400 an hour to take care of their daughter. Father Frank (A. Martinez), a reverend is also there to console the family but its doubtful that religion will go down too well with the murderous Chucky (Voiced by Brad Dourif).
So what can push a dysfunctional family over the edge even further? Well throw in a killer doll of course, hell bent on revenge. Chucky has a score to settle, one that began twenty-five years ago with Nica’s family. This film is the missing piece of the puzzle, we get an insight into the backstory of Charles Lee Ray, before he terrorized innocent Andy Barclay all those years ago. The discovery gives him a bit more depth, even though it isn’t a particularly shocking twist. I’m assuming Mancini intended to provide a sense of empathy for him however it doesn’t translate too well as he is irredeemable by this point. That said, uncovering the mystery of what Chucky wants with the family throughout the film is pretty enjoyable viewing.
Tension is built up well however is slightly drawn out at times. The viewer is brought to the edge of their seats and are pushed that bit further, especially during the family dinner scene. During the tense moments, a lot of close ups are used, conveying a sense of uncomfortableness not knowing when Chucky will jump out around the corner or when a false alarm will occur. There are some genuine jump scare moments, which shows that Mancini has upped his game in terms of improving the series by using old skool techniques to create a sense of suspense and fear, a favorite would be the creepy elevator scene. The original film is echoed back to a great deal in this sense, visually, with Chucky menacingly running around, through using close ups of his feet and POV shots.
Why is Curse of Chucky one to watch this Halloween, You ask? Its always fun to check out a new horror movie however this one obviously has the nostalgia factor. “The 80’s were awesome!” exclaims Ian as he recalls the popularity of the Good Guy Dolls, however I do wonder why it wasn’t discontinued after being associated with numerous murders! Fiona Dourif’s Nica is very likeable and is much stronger and resourceful than the rest of the characters, especially when it comes to taking matters into her own hands, she certainly holds her own when encountered with the evil doll. There’s some hilarious yet dark one-liners, Chucky is back on top form and his killings have got a bit more gruesome and with the perfect 18 certificate the gore goes all out! The ending is surprising with a twist that will be very appealing to its fans. Its also a very good introduction to Chucky for those unfamiliar with the previous installments as it shows him at his dark best and provides a clear backstory. With relief the series has also avoided the inevitable horror remake making a sequel of this kind more welcoming. I could go as far as saying this is my favorite film from the series but I have a lot of affection for Bride of Chucky as well as the original trilogy! For a fun, scary and suspenseful recent horror film, be sure to indulge in Curse of Chucky this season.
Hayley Alice Robers.