The ‘Chucky’ of the ’80s just pulled up in the Delorean.
It’s about time someone cleaned out Chucky’s fridge. Messy, cluttered and crammed with so many different varieties of ham, the franchise has been beseeching a good scrub and toss for a while.
‘Chucky’ poppa, and “Curse of Chucky” writer/director Don Mancini bins a lot in the franchise clean-up operation, but leaves in some of the well-kept ingredients that have been hiding down the back for years.
With the grime gone, the tub of expired ‘dolls having sex silhouette’ sauce turfed, and only the bare necessities adorning the shelves again, Mancini’s able to whip up something pretty good, using only what he needs.
Let’s admit it, as entertaining as some of those latter sequels to 1988’s “Child’s Play” were (“Seed of Chucky”, “Bride of Chucky”, “The Big Chuckowski”, “The Good Guys Take Manhattan”) , things went from scary to silly pretty darn quickly. Not one of them rocked us like that original Tom Holland-directed classic did. I guess most horror series are implanted with a funny bone somewhere along the line though, seems to be the norm. From the “Halloween” and “Nightmare on Elm Street” series to the never-ending “Friday the 13th” movie marathon (even the “Gremlins” series), the contemporary horror franchise usually undergo a tone transformation by about the third or fourth sequel. Thing is, how many of those horror yarns that have had their scares swapped for silly, are still standing? Not many. As Jack Napier can attest, comedy kills.
Knowing a Jackie Earle Haley-led reboot is likely only around the corner if he don’t act fast, Mancini convinced Universal to let him do a low-budget ‘rehaul’ of the series and consequently packed with paddles with power.
Hit it again, Don.
Set mostly in a decrepit old house (first indication that the movie has a fairly low budget), the flick fixes on a family, gathered together for a funeral, who eventually discover they’re being knocked off one-by-one by a strange doll (Brad Dourif, the staple of the series, voicing the part again) that arrived in the mail a few days back. It’s up to the wheelchair bound Nica (Fiona Dourif) to stop the slash-happy doll, and furthermore, work out why ‘Chucky’ picked this family to exercise his murderous muscle on in the first place.
“Curse of Chucky” doesn’t overlook the events of the past few ‘Chucky’ films (in fact, there’s references – and some other fun nods – to both “Bride of Chucky” and “Seed of Chucky” in the film), but it does attempt to make good on the lack of scares and horror the series hasn’t encompassed for a while. With some genuine chills, lots of gore, an unsettling, suspenseful yarn (assisted by a Hitchcockian score) and a more menacing, less hokey doll at the forefront, the sequel-reboot really recharges the Good Guy’s batteries.
Seemingly because his budget won’t allow for too much spectacle, Mancini’s worked hard on an interesting, clever storyline too. “Curse” ties into the first film, not only tonally, but also in its fascination with what made Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourig, complete with hideous wig) – the crook who would become the doll – tick. And the reason Chucky has ended up with the clan in this film is well thought-out and eyebrow-arching interesting.
“Curse” is a quality direct-to-disc sequel. And having said that, even if Chucky doesn’t grace the big screen again, and from here on out makes the BD player his home, it’s likely a more prosperous future for the franchise than the one of the alternate timeline that sees Platinum Dunes rebooting the series, complete with $150 million dollars and an iMac-created doll encompassing the voice of ShiaLaBeouf.