Curse of Chucky Movie Review
Written by Ted McCarthy
Released by Universal Studios
Written and directed by Don Mancini
2013, 97 minutes, Rated R
Brad Dourif as Charles Lee Ray/Chucky
Fiona Dourif as Nica
Danielle Bisutti as Barb
Summer Howell as Alice
Our genre has seen hundreds of killers slice and dice, but only a select few have commanded our repeat attention (and repeat dollars) and spawned a franchise. In the pantheon of celluloid slashers alongside Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers, and Leatherface, one of the most enduring horror giants is anything but: a short, innocent-looking Good Guy doll possessed by the soul of a serial killer named Chucky. When he first appeared in 1988’s Child’s Play, the idea of a killer doll was kind of silly, but still novel and fun enough to get the movie its deserved cult status. Now, 25 years and five films later, we’re getting Curse of Chucky, the sixth series entry featuring the pint-sized predator.
This time around, Chucky mysteriously arrives in a package on the doorstep of single mother Sarah (Chantal Quesnelle) and her wheelchair-bound daughter Nica (Fiona Dourif, looking like a poor man’s Emma Stone). Unsure of who sent him, Sarah throws him away, only to end up dead in the house that night. In the wake of her “suicide,” Nica’s greedy sister Barb (Danielle Bisutti) arrives with her husband Ian (Brennan Elliot), daughter Alice (Summer Howell), and sexy new nanny Jill (Maitland McConnell). Alice immediately bonds with Chucky, her new “friend ‘til the end,” and everyone else is so caught up in arguing over who’s going to keep the house and who gets to bang the nanny that nobody pays much attention to the doll mysteriously disappearing and reappearing until it’s too late.
Full disclosure, I haven’t seen all of the other Child’s Play sequels, but I hope they don’t all get off to as boring a start as this one. The filmmakers commit the sin of having their opening kill happen off screen, depriving us of any kind of bloodshed for the better part of an hour. When you get to the sixth film of a series about a murdering toy, there’s no need for 45 minutes of set up and character development, especially with some of the acting work on display here. Fiona Dourif is okay as the lead, and I don’t have much complaint about Howell as the little girl, but Bisutti and Maitland are both mind-numbingly annoying as the sister and nanny who are hiding a secret from the rest of the family.
The film’s small saving grace (one of two, actually, but the second is a surprise cameo towards the end) is the presence of Brad Dourif (Fiona’s father), who appears both as Charles Lee Ray in flashbacks as well as the signature voice of Chucky in doll form. I admire Dourif for being game to return to this character the same way I admire Robert Englund and Doug Bradley for returning for crummy Elm Street and Hellraiser sequels, respectively, because like Freddy and Pinhead, Chucky is only as good as the performer behind him, and Dourif’s performance is easily the most enjoyable thing about the movie.
Save for one semi-impressive axe-to-the-face effect, the too-few kills are almost universally lame (with more than one glaring instance of CGI blood usage) and/or poorly executed (this film shouldn’t be looked to for realistic – or even entertaining – depiction of death by electrocution). The “suspense” scenes (in the darkened house when the power goes out in a thunderstorm – because we’ve never seen that before) are all standard, and the scares are all of the cheap jump variety, including an unnecessary one to close the film that just made me angry.
Writer/director Don Mancini (who has penned every installment in the series) has said that he wanted to take Curse of Chucky away from the campy parody of the last few sequels and get back to the dark horror roots of the original. The problem with that is it ain’t 1988 anymore. The audiences who dug the original back then have grown up, and in a hard-R, post-Hostel horror landscape, the concept of a possessed killer doll is just too tame and antiquated to gain new fans. A post-credit sequence seems to indicate that the series is finally done, but as with the rest of Chucky’s killer contemporaries, now we just have to wait for the inevitable reboot.