Published Oct 30, 2013Inanimate icons definitely have an advantage when it comes to longevity. Child's Play is the only major horror franchise from the '80s to soldier on in continuity instead of hitting the reset button. It's likely more a testament to the limited cult appeal of a killer doll though that the studio hired the original mind behind Chucky to continue shepherding the series after Seed of Chucky could have been the final nail in the flagging concept.
Recognizing how high the camp factor has risen with the possessed doll family, Don Mancini wisely pulls back from the mythology, without ignoring it, to return the titular, pint-sized murderer to his roots. Or, more aptly, return the series to a factory fresh box. Plastic slapstick horror takes a backseat to a human-centric, dramatic brand of terror this time out. A wheel chair-bound young woman named Nica (Fiona Dourif, daughter of Brad Dourif, who has voiced Chucky since the beginning) is mourning the suicide of her mother when bitchy sister Barb (Danielle Bisutti) arrives at the family homestead to settle affairs. Speaking of affairs, she's having one with the nanny, in a minor nipple-twist to formula. Their fraternization isn't played just for titillation — the clandestine relationship gives all the able-bodied adults something to be more concerned with than claims of a talking doll from a little girl.
To help distract her daughter, Sarah (Chantal Quesnelle), Barb allows her to play with a red haired Chucky doll (now proclaimed vintage) that's delivered to the house for reasons, and by persons, unknown until late in the film. While the sisters argue about what happens with the household and Barb's husband wonders what his wife is getting up to late at night, the peevish serial killer inhabiting a child's doll slowly plants atheistic ideas in the mind of his playmate before setting about building his latest body count.
It's not especially frightening or outright funny, but Curse of Chucky is gruesome in an often comical way. Where the film succeeds unexpectedly is in the character work and in Mancini's thoughtful direction. Fiona Dourif is particularly compelling as the lead, and the emotional transference between Sarah and Chucky works decently well without offering any searing insights into child psychology. Hitting the 25th anniversary mark though, this chapter is primarily about addressing the whims and curiosities of fans.
In a feature commentary track with Fiona Dourif and puppeteer Tony Gardner, Mancini discusses the many Easter eggs and other bits of fan service that influenced his decisions. As commentaries go, this one mostly occupies the middle of the road, but shout-outs to Todd and the Book of Pure Evil and Orphan Black will be endearing to Canadian genre fans.
The rest of the bonus content is moderately interesting but not exceptional in any way. A gag reel contains the standard mugging and flubbing; the deleted scenes were omitted for good reason; and the production features are all relatively standard. "Playing With Dolls" takes a look back at the entire series prior to a detailed breakdown of all the major gore gags in the movie, including stunts and practical effects work. "Living Doll: Bringing Chucky to Life" showcases the technical tricks used to make us believe a doll can take out grown humans, while "The Chucky Legacy" finds the cast and crew discussing the potency of the killer doll.
Lastly, and of least interest to all but aspiring filmmakers, is a storyboard to screen comparison of four scenes, each with an introduction by Mancini. (Universal)