After 2004’s chaotic (and not in a particularly good way) Seed Of Chucky, it was widely believed that if another epic featuring everyone’s favourite Good Guy was ever to manifest itself, then a major course correction was needed. Seed, while admittedly having it’s moments, was essentially more a gore soaked farcical comedy than the psychological horror that was paraded around in the first film and so when Curse Of Chucky was announced the fandom breathed a sigh of relief when news broke that this 6th installment would attempt to take the franchise back to it’s roots.
And thus begins Curse Of Chucky, a stripped back (in scope and in budget), Hitchcockian horror/thriller, full of twists and turns that breaths just enough new life (like a voodoo curse) into the ongoing series for devotees but will most likely leave newcomers perplexed.
Nica Pierce, a young woman wheelchair bound from birth, receives a random package one day addressed to her troubled mother and upon opening it up they are confused to find it contains a Good Guy doll. That night, after blood curdling screams are heard, Nica finds her mother lying in a pool of blood, dead seemingly by her own hand. Days later, to help with the funeral arrangements, Nica’s social ladder climbing sister (played by The Nun from The Conjuring 2, trivia fans) and her family arrive and that’s where things start to get interesting. Barb’s daughter adopts the Good Guy doll and claims it’s telling her weird things – assuming that explaining to her that there is no God isn’t actually one of the factory settings of the Good Guy speech patterns – while the facade of happiness her parents have is cracking faster than an egg on Easter. Even stranger, Nica is convinced something decidedly odd is occuring when she witnesses a suspicious man hanging around like a bad smell in the background of an old home video of a family barbeque.
Then bodies start turning up at the same time Nica’s niece goes missing and all the vitriol that’s been building up throughout the family over years bubbles up to the surface in ugly ways. But could it be the doll who is actually responsible for all this?
Of course it is. This is a Chucky movie. He’s on the bloody cover for fuck’s sake. But the real twist of Curse Of Chucky isn’t whether the doll is alive or not. No, the plot flip is far more meta than that thanks to a new, subtler style which leads long term fans starting off convinced they were watching a soft reboot of the entire Child’s Play series. However, with a scene where a character discovers that the doll is wearing make up that is concealing Chucky’s trademark scars from parts Bride and Seed, we realize we are actually watching a full blooded part 6 that is fully part of established continuity.
Now, I admit, as twists go it may not be on the same level as other legendary brain-fuckers such as Planet Of The Apes or Se7en, but as a fan, to find out you were unaware of the TYPE of Child’s Play film you were watching was actually extraordinarily fun. However, non-fans are going to be completely impervious to said twist and from this point on the story opens a flood gatethat batters the viewer with further plot points, twists and references that bore ever deeper into Child’s Play lore. Flashbacks that link Nica’s family to Chucky and surprise cameos (the one at the very end of the credits is a doozy) fly thick and fast and act as a surprisingly warm love letter to the movies in general and are greatly appreciated (as is the genuinely mean, down beat tone of the whole film); even the casting is self referential with Nica being played by Fiona Dourif, the daughter of Chucky voice actor Brad.
Aside from the uninitiated being utterly baffled by all the in-jokes, the only other real down point here is the noticeably reduced budget (Curse Of Chucky was a direct home release) which doesn’t slow the filmmakers down in terms of style but does render Chucky himself a bit muppet-y with the animatronics noticeably less precise as previous entries.
Nevertheless, this is still a massive step in the right direction and kudos have to go to returning director Don Mancini for making up for directing the muddled previous movie with a healthy amount of visual panache (his directing here is weirdly far more confident than his script which clutters the last act with multiple, if enjoyable, endings) and robust, yet intelligently deployed gore.
A near return to form for this particular toy story.