With Curse of Chucky, the sixth installment of the enduring Child’s Play franchise, everyone’s favorite knee-high homicidal maniac goes back to his genuinely shocking ginger roots, reteaming writer/director Don Mancini, producer David Kirschner, puppet and makeup effects master Tony Gardner and the irreplaceable Brad Dourif — the famous voice of Chucky — for a sequel that will satisfy and surprise newcomers and Chucky completists alike.
For remedial viewers: Over the last 25 years, the spirit of serial killer/voodoo enthusiast Charles Lee Ray has been trapped in the body of a Good Guys doll, murdering at will while looking for a fresh start, or at least a fresh body for himself, while those who survive his fiendish feats struggle to find anyone who’ll believe such evil acts are being perpetrated by a mere plastic plaything.
And while this sixth installment of the series certainly embraces the classic Chucky canon, it walks such a twisted path that it will keep even the most faithful to the franchise guessing. Curse moves the story away from the comedic turn it had taken with the last two films, Bride of Chucky and Seed of Chucky, so much so that it’s at least as much a reboot as it is a sequel, delivering a level of creepiness not felt since the 1988 original.
Drawing influences from many classic horror films, Curse of Chucky gives a natural embrace to its Gothic setting, as much Psycho house homage as it is a logical, lonely place for a mother and daughter hiding from a tormented past.
With Curse, we find our twentysomething heroine, Nica, confined to a wheelchair inside of a house so eerie it could have been the setting of an old Vincent Price movie, with no one but her skittish mother to keep her company.
It’s clear that Nica’s nervous mother’s worry has kept her more a prisoner than being confined to a wheelchair; but when a mysterious package arrives via a flirty courier, her mother’s worries are laid to rest — once and for all — after Nica soon finds her in a pool of blood at the bottom of the staircase. Nica’s sister Barb shows up with husband, daughter and hot nanny in tow to come to Nica’s aid after mom’s death — or perhaps it’s just to shuttle sis off to an assisted living facility so Barb can sell the house? The claustrophobic single location of the film is as mercilessly confined as our heroine, but writer-director Mancini cleverly fills it with one unexpected twist after another, all the while Chucky lining up his victims “Ten Little Indians”-style.
The classic “Old Dark House” storytelling and the chair-bound heroine are great conceits and particularly useful ones for this franchise given its diminutive villain, offering ramped-up tension and suspense and making the audience instantly sympathetic to Nica, who is constantly foiled by her inability to leave her chair when all hell breaks loose.
The visuals are unusually glossy for the DTDVD budget and the genre, adding some gorgeous to the gore, along with a lush and creepy score filled with whispering taunts that feel just right for a supernatural killer doll’s evil playground. It all works in concert to give a nightmarish element of foreboding as our most primal “fight-or-flight” instincts are restricted by Nica’s plight, forcing her into relentless face-offs with the little demon Chucky.
It’s impossible to summarize the whole film without endless spoilers, but from the midpoint on the film never lets up as Mancini is cleverly tricky and offers endless treats that entertain on their own and also sew up every loose stitch from the previous Child’s Play installments, making Curse an inordinately satisfying genre sequel.
In a couple of fun real-life surprises, Nica is played in a stellar turn by Fiona Dourif, the daughter of the one-and-only Brad Dourif, who steps up impressively to the challenge of creating real tension as she plays the one grown-up in the film who realizes the freakin’ doll is alive. And for the first time since 1988’s Child’s Play, Oscar-nominee Dourif makes an onscreen appearance in the flesh, in a neat flashback as Charles Lee Ray. The supporting cast rounds things out nicely, but the film really hinges on the Dourif duo’s Nica and Chucky, and the younger generation seems to have something in her blood that enables her to breathe real life and scares into what has always been a somewhat unreal premise.
As is expected for the Chucky franchise, Curse is full of creative kills and really showcases puppet-master Tony Gardner and his crew’s animatronic acting talents. Sharp use is also made of Chucky double work by franchise veteran Debbie Lee Carrington, which will be spotted with delight by attentive viewers. The whole operation is rather impressive and it’s worth noting the Curse makeup crew is responsible for making what have to be some of the best faux severed heads in horror movie history.
With Mancini — who has written all six Chucky films — directing for the second time, franchise producer Kirschner, and veteran puppet designer Gardner back for the second time, the Chucky film series has maintained a level of consistency behind the camera not often seen in Hollywood. Even as the movies have changed in tone, they’ve always stayed true to a unique character who has inspired many a nightmare since 1988, and perhaps this is how they’ve managed to deliver one of the strongest entries to the franchise to date. Fans who have been looking for a return to the more frightening tone of the original Child’s Play will not be disappointed.
The Blu-ray is full of extras that are well worth your time, with deleted scenes, audio commentaries from Mancini, Gardner and Fiona Dourif, a hilarious gag reel and solid behind-the-scenes featurettes, most notably Living Doll: Bringing Chucky to Life, which details the making and operating of Chucky himself. The film is full of fun Easter Eggs and be sure to stick around after the credits for one of the most enjoyable and shocking shots in the film.
CURSE OF CHUCKY FILMMAKERS:
Cast: Brad Dourif, Fiona Dourif, A Martinez, Danielle Bisutti, Brennan Elliott
Directed By: Don Mancini
Screenplay By: Don Mancini
Produced By: David Kirschner, Don Mancini
TECHNICAL INFORMATION – BLU-RAY:
Street Date: October 8, 2013
Copyright: 2013 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.
Running Time: 1 hour 35 minutes / 1 hour 37 minutes
LayersAspect Ratio: Widescreen 1.78:1
Rating: R for bloody horror violence and for Language/Unrated
Technical Info: English DTS Master Audio 5.1, Spanish and French DTS Digital Surround 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish
Also look for the Chucky: The Complete Collection Limited Edition box set, which will compile the entire series for the first time ever.