October 8, 2013
Fiona Dourif as Nica
Danielle Bisutti as Barb
Brennan Elliott as Ian
Maitland McConnell as Jill
Brad Dourif as Chucky
Alex Vincent as Andy Barclay
Don Mancini was born to provide audiences with an iconic story that will live on long beyond Mancini’s own years. That story centered on a doll possessed by a maniacal serial killer and was birthed back in 1988 under the title Child’s Play. 25 years later the Child’s Play franchise continues to thrill viewers, and while the series title has undergone some changes (ditching the Child’s Play brand in favor of prominent placement of our lead villains name Chucky), it has continued to garner respectable praise among loyal followers. Over the course of six films we’ve seen at least four engaging pieces loaded to the brim with ambition and terror. Fortunately for diehard Chucky fans, Curse of Chucky isn’t one of the two franchise flicks to fall flat. In fact, Curse of Chucky is one of the strongest installments in the history of the outrageous brand.
The film is truly tricky, as it functions on two parallel levels designed to delight those obsessed with nasty looking Good Guy dolls, especially those who have been following the storyline for two-plus decades. See, Curse of Chucky is, in a way, a remake. The doll pops up in the living room of a family, eventually targeting the young Alice. He’s out to play Hide the Soul, and get the hell out of that battered and beaten plastic casing and this young lady will certainly serve as a fine and discreet host. Alice attempts to inform her guardians of the true intent of the inconspicuous toy, but they ignore her declarations, chalking it up to an overactive imagination. That line of thought lasts about as long as it takes Chucky to off the first resident. As the bodies pile up, the few remaining survivors begin to put the pieces together and accept the fact that Chucky is indeed alive, harboring the soul of sadistic serial killer Charles Lee Ray. Sounds a whole lot like the original Child’s Play, right?
Now while we’re eyeing a very familiar story (again, I stress the fact that this could easily work as a remake/reboot), we are proffered some valuable backstory to Chucky’s existence that we haven’t seen from past films yet. In fact, we learn precisely why Chucky has targeted this new family. Without divulging any spoilers I’ll note that there is a pivotal connection between the doll’s latest victims and Charles Lee Ray’s ungodly transfer from human to plaything. Although these details don’t surface until the picture’s waning moments, they’re fairly gratifying revelations that bring this story full circle. Curse of Chucky was most certainly designed to cater to the loyalist of fans (if you have your doubts, wait for the nifty little scene that unravels after the pic’s credits), and it works well.
Visually the production is gorgeous. Mancini opts to limit shooting locations, which in turn creates a slightly claustrophobic sensation and a simultaneous allegiance to slasher films of the 1970s and 1980s. There’s a strange intimacy in this approach as the flick truly does feel like an ‘80s production 25 years ahead of its time. The lighting is delightfully shadowy, producing a unique vintage charm and the set pieces are fantastic. This was shot on one damn creepy set that feels almost as threatening as Chucky himself. The editing is impressive and constructs a degree of fluidity that we haven’t seen from the last few installments and the animatronics and prosthetics are certainly up to par.
The cast does a stellar job with their material. Sarah’s a believable bitch, Barb is the woman no man wants, Jill’s the housekeeper every man wants, but the tangible magic rests in the presence of our true heroine. Fiona Dourif is riveting as the paraplegic Nica. She’s relatable, convincing and sympathetic. She’s also unbelievably gorgeous (no offense Mr. Dourif – I’m a major, major fan – but you had a role in creating this looker? Good job sir!) and inculcated with the moxie we want and expect of our heroines. She’s got resolve. She’s got heart. Most importantly she’s got the audience wrapped around her finger thanks to a startlingly refined performance. By all accounts Chucky should be the show stealer, but Nica defines this picture right out of the gate.
Far superior (swapping cheesy humor for pure darkness) to Bride of Chucky and Seed of Chucky,Curse of Chucky is a healthy dose of eerie fun in waiting. Of all the recent Child’s Play flicks to see release, this was the one that genuinely deserved a powerful theatrical push. The direct-to-video release seems like a slap in the face of Mancini and a lack of confidence on the part of studio execs. Well… you screwed up: Curse of Chucky should have been witnessed on the big screen. Want to invest in a killer sequel? Ignore studio apprehensions and invest in Curse of Chucky, it’s a kick ass flick.