All monsters have their makers. Wes Craven made Freddy Krueger, John Carpenter, and Debra Hill made Michael Myers, Tobe Hooper, and Kim Henkel made Leatherface. Though many of these writers/directors move on to other projects. Most of which never return to the characters that made them famous. Don Mancini is different. To date, there have been six Chucky movies, and Don Mancini has written every single one. The series has seen its definite highs and lows, but I’m happy to say Curse of Chucky is an all time high. Unlike that terrible band All Time Low.
If you’re not familiar with Chucky’s trajectory; first, there was Child’s Play in 1988. Directed by Tom Holland (Fright Night, Thinner), it was a fairly typical slasher film. Though there is some interesting mythology. Before he was Chucky, Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif) was a serial killer on the lam. Fatally shot in a toy store, Charles transfers his soul into a doll through a voodoo spell. Charles now Chucky then attempts to transfer his soul into that of his new owner played by Alex Vincent, Andy (Ha, like Toy Story), so that he can become human again. It’s a solid template for a solid film.
The next two Child’s Play films are more of the same. In Child’s Play 2 (1990), Andy moves in with a foster family only to be stalked by Chucky again. The film isn’t great but has some very memorable scenes, including an opening credit sequence showing the Chucky doll being refurbished and a final battle in a toy factory between Andy in Chucky. Child’s Play 3 (1991) I watched as a child on the USA network. In this installment, Andy goes to military school and Chucky shows up for the same old shit. It’s bad. Though it does have the classic tagline: “Look Who’s Stalking!” John Travolta fans would appreciate that one.
The series took a 360-degree turn with the next two installments. Where the series used to be a serious affair, Bride of Chucky and Seed of Chucky are basically comedies. In Bride, Chucky turns a former girlfriend, (Jennifer Tilly), into his doll wife and in Seed they have a baby? “What? How does that work?” The series is basically a parody of its former self at this point. Though I do appreciate Mancini taking the series in a different direction it kind of felt like he lost faith in Chucky’s ability to be scary. I’ve always liked Brad Dourif’s vocal performance but I want to see him strike fear into the hearts of his victims, not do standup.
Then we cut to Curse of Chucky (2013), a low-budget, straight-to-DVD release. Must be terrible, right? Honestly, it’s the best Chucky movie since the first and the best reviewed of the series. Curse of Chucky is one those reboot/remakes we’ve been seeing a lot these days. The film goes back to the basics in plot and with a relatively more serious approach. Though the film also has connections to the previous films and of course Brad Dourif is back as Chucky. It wouldn’t be a Chucky movie without him or Don Mancini.
Fiona Dourif plays Nica, a paraplegic girl living in a spooky mansion with her controlling mother Sarah (Chantal Quesnel). One day, a Chucky doll is delivered to their front door with no explanation. Sarah thinks it must be some kind of prank and throws the doll away. BIG MISTAKE! Because later that night Chucky gets his revenge and kills her.
Left alone, Nica’s stuffy older sister Barb (Danielle Bisutti) moves in with her way too laid back husband Ian (Brennan Elliott), their sweet daughter Alice (Summer H. Howell) and their live-in nanny Jill (Maitland McConnell). They want to sell the house and send Nica to a home but Nica refuses and therefore the family decides to stay for awhile. ANOTHER BIG MISTAKE!
The film returns to classic slow burn of the first film. It takes awhile for us to see Chucky in full motion, instead, we catch glimpses of moving shower curtains or an empty rocking chair. There are some fairly violent sequences, but Chucky is still mostly shown off to the side. It’s a film with solid scares. What I have a problem with is the melodrama.
It seems like Mancini still can’t tear himself away from writing silly characters. The family feels over-the-top, particularly Barb and the overly-sweet nanny. They don’t seem like real people as much as they do characters in a dinner theater production. They are funny sometimes, but I would have loved to see some more down to earth people.
Still, it was nice to see a horror movie that actually made the most out of a small budget. It’s a smart production that’s well paced with appropriate scares and memorable scenes. I actually would be interested in watching another Chucky movie at this point. There’s always time for playtime.