With the state of Don Mancini’s Child’s Play franchise floating in a weird flux due to Seed Of Chucky‘s confusing, ridiculous, and off-putting conclusion, Curse Of Chucky came with mixed emotions – but a new hope. This was Mancini’s chance to atone for Glen/Glenda’s sins, and as more and more information started to leak on Chucky’s latest killing spree, fans started to see promise. Gone were the Franken-Chucky scars, sporting a clean new look, which also suggested no Tiffany, no Glen/Glenda, and again, if trailers and such were to be believed, no Andy Barclay. New victims, new story, and the removal of everything we hated – Curse Of Chucky had every inclination of getting back to the dark, true horror Chucky started with. Seed of who?
Curse Of Chucky introduces us to a new family, as a paraplegic girl named Nica (Fiona Dourif) and her mother Sarah (Chantal Quesnelle) receive a mysterious package in the mail. Opening the package, Nica finds a Good Guy doll, but with no idea why it’s been sent, Sarah throws the doll away. Of course, we know the Good Guy doll is actually possessed by the soul of Charles Lee Ray, and when Sarah is found dead in the middle of the night in an apparent suicide, we know what’s about to happen. Joining Nica in the large, empty mansion are a collection of family and friends for support, but with Chucky on the loose, who will survive the night, and what surprising secrets will be revealed?
*Please note that I’ll be discussing the Child’s Play mythology from here on out, and because of that, there will be spoilers considering the many twists and turns found throughout Curse Of Chucky. If you haven’t seen the film, please read on at your own risk. This is a definite spoiler alert*
Curse Of Chucky was marketed both brilliantly and moronically, as if it wasn’t for some very nice websites blatantly warning readers in the article title that checking out the latest set pictures would completely spoil all the connective twists that completely took me by surprise, I would have unknowingly ruined some serious reveals. I pity those who had the exposing of Chucky’s scars, the arrival of Tiffany, and Andy Barclay’s after-after credits scene spoiled, as Mancini convinced us all that Chucky ditched the scars and cleaned up his act, yet we’re thrown right back into the Chucky universe that every fan knows.
A brutal tonal shift came with much relief for this fan, as Seed Of Chucky turned our pint-sized killer into nothing but a vessel for lame, immature humor and weak relationship comedy that belonged nowhere near a Chucky movie. Mancini gets back to the true roots of Child’s Play, setting up Chucky’s exploits through slow and steady exposure, methodically pacing Chucky’s horrifying reveal. In past films, we’ve accepted that Chucky is a possessed doll with a murderous streak, so from scene one we see him walking and talking. There’s no reason to hide what was a stupendous shock in the original Child’s Play, but in doing so, some of that tensely unnerving magic was lost, as Chucky may have been jabbering on a little too much for his own good. Curse Of Chucky realizes this, throws comedy to the wayside, and makes Chucky a force to be feared yet again. No more masturbating to Fangoria magazines or Tiffany flashing her plastic breasts – Chucky is mean, violent, ruthless, and can still spout equally chuckle-worthy one-liners while being a proper slasher icon.
Mancini also does a little work to revamp some of the past choices of his franchise, as any open plot hole is addressed through flashbacks and surprise cameos. In doing so, there’s a definite feel that Curse Of Chucky is simply a filler piece so that Mancini can move on to bigger and better sequels, as a series of increasingly monumental events overshadow the deaths and story throughout Nica’s devastating night. Wait, Nica’s family had ties to Charles Lee Ray? Wait, TIFFANY IS ALIVE and sending Chucky to his next target? HOLD THE PHONE, did Chucky just successfully transfer his soul? WAIT, DID ANDY BARCLAY JUST KILL CHUCKY?! Curse Of Chucky was thrilling and scary, as poor Nica is forced to fight off a refreshingly menacing version of Chucky, but Mancini’s twist-ending treats will leave die-hard Charles Lee Ray fans on a distractingly rewarding horror high.
Fiona Dourif plays the only character meaty enough to analyze, and as a character restricted to a wheelchair, Fiona gives an extremely strong horror performance while running away from a killer doll voiced by her father. It’s one thing to be terrorized by Chucky normally, but it’s a completely different game when stairs are just as equal a foe. Despite having to crawl away from Chucky, Nica is a formidable, resilient horror heroine who not only fights with ferocity, but shows a mental deterioration as no one believes that a simple toy could be slicing and dicing this family up.
In reality though, we watch these movies for Chucky, and thanks to technological advances and Brad Dourif’s legendary voice acting, Chucky is in the best shape of his life. The puppetry alone is amazing, as Chucky freely moves about and stalks his prey, especially when toying with Nica. Her disparity becomes even more hopeless as Chucky nonchalantly walks behind Nica, asserting himself as a dominant force. Gone are the bad jokes and back are Chucky’s threatening, foul-mouthed taunts, along with a cackling laugh that haunts nightmares. His dialogue is dramatically decreased, and so is his lively screen time, but this all works in making his spotlight moments hold more weight, and strike more fear. This is the Chucky I want, this is the Chucky we lost, and this is the Chucky we need to stay around.
Curse Of Chucky thankfully departs from Chucky’s comedic schtick and rejuvenates the dark, seedy, playfully demented feeling Child’s Play movies should be known for. Chucky isn’t a court jester, he’s a maliciously sinister serial killer stuck in the most innocent body possibly, striking fear and cracking appropriate zingers like a true psychopath. In accomplishing all of these feats, franchise mastermind Don Mancini introduces new characters, new victims, but works familiar faces back into the story (Tiffany was never a problem, and Jennifer Tilly belongs in Chucky movies) and stitches up some lingering holes. This franchise should have been dead to rights after Seed Of Chucky, but Don Mancini has found a way to turn that messy situation into a fluid story, sparking newly inspired feelings about future instalments.
Never count a murderous, red-haired devil-doll out. Horror fans assumed Chucky was down for the count, but he dusted off his knife and tore up his amateur joke book – and became a stronger slasher icon for it.