Throwback Terror Thursday #1: Curse of Chucky

Posted: September 12, 2014 in Horror Blog

Spoilers.

I’m actually surprised with myself that for my first throwback I’m not doing a “classic.” But I just picked this film up the other day and watched it and was reminded of how much I loved it. I believe this film flew under the radar for a lot of people, probably due to the fact that it had an unfortunate direct to DVD release, and that to me is sad because it is honestly a really solid addition to the series.

Curse of Chucky came out after a nearly ten year absence of the foul mouthed little terror. And the absence was most likely due to how had had been handled in Bride and Seed. I can let BoC slide, okay? I can watch it and have fun with it because I admit that there are some fairly enjoyable moments in it. But Seed is almost unforgivable in my eyes. It does to the Chuck what Batman & Robin did to the caped crusaders. The original Batman films (1989-90’s) are a great parallel to the Child’s Play franchise. The first two are awesome, third one still okay but not as great, and the fourth one just plummets to Hell. SoC took Chucky, the horror icon that really messed me up as a child and caused me to have pediophobia for most of my life, and turns him into nothing but a joke.  When a movie fails so badly though it causes the people in charge to start from scratch. Burn it all to the ground, burn it with fire, and chop it up in to little bits and build it anew. That’s exactly what Curse of Chucky does. It pulls a Chris Nolan and says “hey, let’s press that restart button.” Except instead of remaking Child’s Play, which had been a rumor for a number of years (they even discuss it on the 20th anniversary DVD,) they take the pieces that were left that were (remarkably) salvageable and bring the franchise back to life.

The film starts off with Sarah and Nica, Sarah’s daughter, (Nica is actually played by Fiona Dourif, Brad Dourif’s daughter. And if you don’t know who Brad Dourif is, and you’re reading this, shame on you) alone together in their excessively large house in the middle of BUFU. Nica is wheelchair bound and Sarah is… well, screwed up. We don’t know why, but all she does is spend her days painting sunflowers and apparently ordering crap off TV.  Then one day they get a large package in the mail, and inside is a classic late 80’s Good Guy doll. They think it odd, but keep the doll.

Later that night though Sarah seemingly commits suicide by throwing herself off of the balcony.  Nica’s sister Barb, brother in law Ian, and niece Alice come for the funeral. They are also accompanied  by Father Frank, and Alice’s nanny Jill. Nica gives the Good Guy doll to Alice as a gift, and we finally hear the doll state (in all of its classic glory (IE in the voice from Child’s Play 1-3)) “Hi, I’m Chucky. Wanna’ play?”

The movie actually kind of drags out at this point, really trying to flesh out the characters. I say trying because in the end many of them still feel like some typical character archetypes we’ve seen for decades now, but at least the filmmakers and writers were willing to try and make them more. There is a lot of going back and forth between Barb and Nica, where you can see just how strained their relationship as sisters are. Barb insists that Nica goes into an assisted living home and leaves sells the giant house her and their mother lived in. We also get some not so subtle foreboding lines from a few of the characters, like “It’s a doll. What’s the worst that can happen?” Nica eventually makes dinner with the assistance of Alice who also insists that Chucky be around to help (oh kids. They’re so innocent and sweet with their pretend things….) They make dinner and once they leave the kitchen we see a small plastic hand dump some rat poison into one of the dinner bowls. What follows is a tense scene unfortunately filled with one too many “fake outs” but in the end pays off as we see that Father Frank all of a sudden isn’t feeling good. He leaves, and moments later end up in a car crash where he is decapitated.

Soon after it’s revealed to us that Chucky is indeed alive, and he really begins his murderous spree. As the bodies start piling up we actually get some background on Chucky before he was a doll- that’s right, a back story to Charles Lee Ray (which I’ll get too more, later on.) It all leads up to the conclusion where we thing Nica has finally defeated Chucky but alas the cops come and think that Nica has snapped and killed everyone. So they send her away to a mental institution and Alice now lives with her other grandma. And one day they get a large brown package….

While this film is actually the longest Child’s Play film in the franchise, it is actually fairly basic in plot. Looking back on some of the other films I feel like this one was way more grounded in keeping things simple rather than going over the top and having too many opportunities for loose ends.  It keeps thing contained, which is both a blessing and… a curse (yeah, I said it.) The pacing of the film isn’t bad, per se, but it does drag on in a few spots especially when it’s just treading on territory that we’ve been on before. I’m not saying to delay the appearance of Chucky as a living being but I don’t think it was wise playing the “is he real or not game” with the audience because… well, we all know the answer to that question. This is the fifth film in the series about a supernaturally possessed doll; he’s alive. No mystery. It could have opened it up for a few more chances at one liners from Chucky.

That being said though the moment and time of Chucky’s reveal is perfect, and the line… oh sweet lord, the line is amazing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bM0J3KxOdJA

God, Brad Dourif rocks. Seriously, I think it’s the second best reveal to Chucky being alive since the first film. It sent chills down my spine, while at the same time had me giggling with glee- which is exactly what a Chucky film should do in my eyes.

The whole backstory to Charles Lee Ray subplot was odd. I understand they needed to have a reason for him to have murdered Sarah… but that’s exactly what it felt like. A forced reason for him to come after this family in particular. The story is he was once in love with Sarah, although she seemingly did not reciprocate. I’m actually rather confused as to if we are supposed to think Chucky is Nica’s dad or not (since, well… the whole father/daughter acting thing) but that wasn’t set up at all in the film. So I’m inclined to believe that he’s not. And he also is the reason for Nica being born disabled, having apparently stabbed Sarah while she was pregnant. The MAIN question though that I have was… is Charles just a huge player? Because Tiffany is in this film, and he references the Tilly family- so obviously the other films happened, at least in some capacity.  In BoC Tiff says that they were going to be married, and then he was murdered. But in this film he was totes head over heels in love with Sarah until she betrayed him. So did he have two girls? Or are we picking and choosing which parts of the old canon are still applying to this one? It’s a bit muddled, but I’m sure that is something only major fans of the franchise/horror aficionados would think about, and not the general public.

The deaths in this movie are graphic enough to feel new, but classic at the same time. They are a perfect blend, which once again- has kind of been what Chucky has always been about. A nod to slashers before him while at the same time making it his own. Chucky’s lines are amazing and quippy as ever.

The effects rock for the most part. The only time I was disappointed was there is a scene in which Chucky is coming down from the attic and you can fairly easily tell it’s a CG Chucky doll instead of the real puppet.

In general there is some fairly good acting, I mean as good as it can be I assume. Fiona shines in the film as the lead. There isn’t much to say. It’s not knock your socks off fantastic, but you can tell that the actors at least gave thought to their characters and wanted to try and bring dimension to them and a thought process behind their actions unlike most horror films being released.

All in all, I highly recommend this film, especially if you are already a fan of the character. If you are just looking for a quick horror film to watch on a weekend evening I still recommend it. It’s a lot better than most of the other stuff being released I feel, and I’m still really shocked that Universal didn’t try and release it in theatres (especially since they’d release such trash like As Above/So Below in theatres.) It’s a creepy, witty film with plenty of scares and gore to please. Just, if you’re a fan of the original four, try to get past the confusion of “where and how does this fit in the timeline?”

Also, if you’re a fan of the original films (at least the first three) stay after the credits for a nice little wink…

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