Curse of Chucky sees the return of the indestructible killer doll that is possessed by the spirit of Charles Lee Ray. Chucky is back and he is through with the puns and one-liners that his past two films were rife with. In this installment, Chucky has set his sights on a young, wheelchair bound woman named Nica. Chuck arrives at her home and immediately begins making trouble for the nice young lady. Mysterious deaths start to occur all around her and Nica comes to suspect that the doll that recently arrived on her doorstep may be to blame.
It’s surprising that this installment in the Child’s Play franchise went direct-to-DVD. It is superior to the two previous installments, both of which enjoyed a theatrical exhibition. Perhaps declining box office returns caused Universal to question the theatrical viability of the franchise. Whatever the reason, this installment is among the best in the series and would have benefited from a theatrical bow.
Curse of Chucky marks a severe tonal shift in the Child’s Play series. Bride of Chucky and Seed of Chucky both took a drastic turn for the direction of horror-infused comedy. Seed of Chucky failed by nearly all standards and left the series in need of rejuvenation. This fifth installment serves to revive the franchise and set it back on course. Curse of Chucky goes back the dark roots of the series and delivers scares in the same fashion the Tom Holland helmed original film did.
Having been lucky enough to score a trip to the set of Curse of Chucky to report on the production for another outlet, I was able to see first hand just how passionate the creative team behind the franchise is about this film. Don Mancini has been with the series since the first Child’s Play picture, co-penning the original script alongside Tom Holland. In speaking with him, it was evident that Mancini was excited to bring the fans what they had been asking for and it was also quite apparent that he is pleased to be a part of the creative process after all this time. Mancini has been involved with every Child’s Play film in some capacity. In this case, he serves as both the film’s writer and director. Mancini recaptures the dark tonality of the first installment and uses the film’s score, lighting, and camera angles to create a very tense and atmospheric feature.
The tone of this film is serious to the point of being menacing. Mancini’s screenplay for Curse of Chucky features a very clever wraparound story that links this installment to the other films in the series. This installment offers a lot of backstory. In fact, there are several aspects of this feature that work like a prequel to the original film. In line with that theme, there are multiple segments that address the origins of the franchise and answer questions posed in the first picture of the series. But Curse of Chucky is ultimately a direct follow up to its predecessor, Seed of Chucky.
The performances in Curse of Chucky are strong. Fiona Dourif (True Blood) is great as Nica. I initially wondered if she had gotten the part because of her father’s involvement with the films. But I was pleasantly surprised to learn that she was offered the role based solely on her talent as an actress and not because of nepotism. Ms. Dourif brings a vulnerability to the character that will endear the audience to Nica but she also kicks a little ass when the time comes. Brad Dourif is great, as usual. And he has some actual screen time in this film, as opposed to strictly doing voiceover work. Brennan Elliot is also very god as Ian. He captures the despair his character is consumed with very convincingly. A. Martinez turns in a great performance as Father Frank as well. He convincingly plays somewhat of a paradoxical role, as a priest that isn’t quite on the level.
Curse of Chucky is smartly paced. The kills are well timed. They are interspersed at precisely the right moments to keep the feature from dragging at any point.
The effects used in Curse of Chucky are primarily practical and very convincing. The decapitation scene is particularly realistic. The kill scenes are done on camera and never skimp on gore.
My chief complaint is that some of the doll effects look a bit cartoonish. They are not CGI but they are so much smoother than the stop motion style FX used in the first film that I actually missed the imperfect manner in which the earlier films brought the Chucky doll to life.
The combination of a smart script, keen pacing, and great kills work in concert to make Curse of Chucky a noteworthy installment in the Child’s Play franchise. If you have not had the opportunity to check this film out, it is worth a look. It is now on DVD and Blu-Ray. The Blu-Ray disc has several exclusive features, including a series of featurettes not available on the DVD release.
Director(s): Don Mancini
Writer(s): Don Mancini
Stars: Fiona Dourif, Brad Dourif, Brennan Elliot, Danielle Chantal Quesnel, A Martinez
Studio/ Production Co: Universal Home Entertainment
Length: 97 Minutes
Sub-Genre: Satanic Toys