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[BD Review] ‘Curse of Chucky’ Returns ‘Child’s Play’ Franchise To Its Dark Roots

One of the things that I loved about Ronny Yu’s 1998 Bride of Chucky was that it took the Child’s Play franchise in a completely new direction. After two sequels, creator Don Mancini wrote in Tiffany, the “bride” to the infamous slasher, Chucky, which turned the fourth film into a buddy comedy. Even through the gags, both Mancini and Yu kept a straight face, delivering one of the biggest shockers in horror history: a terrifying half doll-half human baby with razor sharp teeth. Mancini, who created the franchise, and penned all of the films, would take the reigns with the 2004 Seed of Chucky, which made a sharp turn that many weren’t expecting. While I judge each film on its own merits (I really liked Seed of Chucky), it wasn’t the movie that Bride of Chucky promised when it left us with our jaws on the theater floor.

Curse of Chucky, written and directed once again by Mancini, returns to the Child’s Play roots, and finally delivers on that promise way back in 1998.

On the franchise’s 25th anniversary, Chucky fans are in for a treat with the latest installment, which puts Brad Dourif’s (the voice of Chucky) daughter Fiona in the lead role. She plays Nica, a born paraplegic, who is tossed in the middle of family drama when a “Good Guys” doll is delivered to her house. Neither her nor her mother knows who or why it was sent to them. Tossed in the trash, that night Nica is awakened to screams, only to find her mother dead on the floor from an apparent fall off the balcony. The Good Guys doll sits in the corner watching. Brooding. Waiting. Classic.

The next day, Nica’s house is infiltrated with family, including her sister (Barb; Danielle Bisutti), brother-in-law (Ian; Brennan Elliott), their young daughter (Alice; Summer Howell) and a live-in maid (Jill; Maitland McConnell). The Good Guys doll immediately enamors Alice, making them best friends forever.

Chucky – for those of you unacquainted, is a serial killer named Charles Lee Ray that became trapped inside the doll (see Child’s Play) – immediately begins his mischievous games, causing bizarre and unexpected deaths to occur. It all needs to look like an accident, which sort of ties Mancini’s hands from being able to do much “slashing”; it forces him to create suspense in other ways, for example, like putting rat poison in a random bowl of the guests’ soup.

Curse of Chucky shows serious restraint, which is rare for a fifth sequel. Instead of jumping right in, Mancini works his way to the reveal, treating the film like an introduction to a completely new, younger audience. And even after ol’ Chuckster is on a path of destruction, Mancini continued to peel layer, after layer, after layer off of the story, blasting the hardcore fans with more hat-tips than they’ll be able to handle.

The new design of Chucky, which will make sense when you see the flick, is crazy scary. Complimented with astounding effects work and puppetry, Chucky has never looked better…

And even though budget appears to have no bearing on Chucky, you can definitely “feel” the constraints, especially since the near-entirety of the film is limited to a single location. Yet, Universal deserves serious props for getting creator Mancini back behind the camera because it was shot with extreme love and care, delivering on quality, classic camerawork and scares that feel intimate to a Child’s Play film.

(Editor’s note: the following contains some spoilerly “references” that you may want to avoid.)

As a hardcore Child’s Play fan, I find the flaws weren’t so overpowering, although I do wish it were a bit gorier. And oddly enough, I really didn’t like what Mancini did with Charles Lee Ray’s backstory, which I felt turned him into a more mean-spirited serial killer.

Speaking of backstory, Mancini ties everything together in Curse of Chucky. It’s a sincere love letter to the fans that really drop the gloves and goes for it. For some, the self-referential model may even be a little too much – but it without question carries the biggest geek-out moments since the 2003 Freddy vs. Jason.

Following the finale, the overly long epilogue plays out like something you’d see in Ocean’s Eleven; and in terms of a payoff, it’s what makes or breaks the movie. Audiences should stick through the end credits for what will be the ultimate sendoff if the franchise were to die tomorrow.

Curse of Chucky may just be the best home video sequel since Wrong Turn 2. It’s alarmingly good, which puts pressure on Universal to answer as to why they didn’t let Mancini shoot this for theaters. Chucky fans should rejoice, though, as Curse of Chucky is clearly going to re-ignite the franchise for years to come.

Official Score

  • OldSchoolHorror

    Im really disappointed this wasn’t given a chance to run in theaters so im definitely looking forward to it on blu ray. Im not expecting it to be great though but hopefully at least better than Seed of Chucky. The fact that you actually liked that, makes me worry about this review.

  • KaiSan

    They’ve pretty much revealed their hand by casting Fiona Dourif. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that her character will likely be revealed to be a human “Seed of Chucky.”

  • Kwonkicker

    I was skeptical, but it seems like a good ride. I’ll be waiting for it when it drops soon!!

  • anthonyd1

    I usually avoid DTV movies at all costs but if they are playing this movie at movie festivals they have to have some confidence and I have been waiting for a chucky movie to be as good as the first one. This and Wrong Turn 2 are the only direct to disc films I will have in my collection

  • mav07

    I stopped reading after you stated “I really liked Seed of Chucky”

  • fersteen

    I’m sorry, but this review just reads like the gushing of a fanboy who would have liked this movie from the start. I’m gonna wait on more reviews so I can see how things are trending before I buy into any kind of hype for a straight to video release from a dying franchise.

    • Austin

      You know there are other reviews on other sites that gave a good review of the movie, if you go on Fiona dorif’s twitter she has posted at least two sites that gave the movie 4 out of 5, but I can see how you can be concerned, after bride and seed it was thought that the franchise would never be the same but I think this movie could save it, I personally can’t wait to see it!

      • fersteen

        I’ve read 3 reviews, which are the only ones I’ve seen online so far. There may be more. Two of them, including this one, were absolutely glowing…the other gave the movie a 7 out of 10. The reason I question the really glowing reviews though is that they both come from people who come across as fanboys and both of them also went out of their way to make it clear that they really liked Seed Of Chucky, which was in my opinion a complete piece of crap. I just have a hard time believing reviews that come from people who seem so over the top in their fandom for the series. Not that I’m making fun of them for being fans, by the way.

        • Austin

          Ya most people who gave the reviews are older and grew up with chucky from movie one but most horror movie fans now remember bride and seed as the first movie of the franchise that they saw so chucky is mostly adored by older audiences,me I’m a rare case I’m only 20 and I saw the first one when I was 5 and saw the rest in order so I am a fan and my opinion of bride and seed, I hated bride but seed had entertainment value, it wasn’t how I wanted the chucky movies to end which is as a comedy so that’s why I think this movie is getting so much praise because its going back to how it started which is scary and continuing the original story and that after almost 20 years they made a chucky movie the right way again.

  • snotboy21

    Ugh so much hate for Seed of Chucky. So undeserved but whatever. This review is getting me all sorts of riled! I am personally a fanboy and that fact makes me happy with this review all the more since it sounds a bit giddy inducing coming from you. Damn the haters, LONG LIVE CLR!

    • Austin

      I know I can’t wait to see this movie, I’ve done some research and the end of the movie is suppose to have a surprise cameo that any chucky fan will love, I looked on wiki and I’m not going to give anything away but it is long over due! Lol

  • HorrorNoir

    I’ve been catching up on the Chucky films, it’s one of those series that I never really got around to watching. Child’s Play was great and I am getting ready to watch the 2nd one on Netflix. Glad you enjoyed this one and it’s returning to it’s darker roots. This comes out on my birthday on VOD so I’ll check it out.

  • Mr. Melvo

    I just watched the movie last night. I liked it but I didn’t love it. A Lot of people have been saying it was awesome or the best of the sequels but I have to disagree.
    The first half of the film was pretty slow almost too slow. I enjoyed some of the kills but thought their wasn’t enough of them. I also couldn’t really make sense of Tiffany being in the film. I was under the impression that this film was to ignore the last 2 films but that clearly isn’t the case. I had pretty high hopes for this one but to me it was a bit of a letdown. I wanted more Chucky! More kills and more foul mouthed one liners! Also the thing that bothered me most was trying to use Brad Dorif in the flash back sequences they unconvincingly tried to make him look like a young Charles Lee Ray but failed miserably. You would think they could have used an actor who looked like him or CGI’d his face on a younger body but I wasn’t buying the terrible black wig. I will say that the ending of the film somewhat made up for the rest of the movie but really I wanted so much more from this film. Perhaps all the interest will put Chucky back where he belongs ON THE BIG SCREEN!

    Over all I give the movie a C+ not the worst thing I have seen from the franchise but certainly not the best. I would say this one is tied with part 3 for me, maybe even a little behind that but just a few notches above “Seed”

    • itsnickkarcher

      I’m pretty sure the Charles Lee Ray in “Child’s Play” is Brad Dourif. The only difference is now he’s older, a lot older, but still looks almost identical to 1988, or whenever CP was made.

  • JcBakerStonerSex

    I really liked the curse of Chucky it was pretty good, but I don’t get why they put Tiffany in it, because in the last movie she became Jeniffer Tilly , so wouldnt she still be going as that name ? Plus they (Chucky and Tiff) had two kids, where are Glen and Glenda ( I actually don’t give a flying about Glen/Glenda lol but still)? Other than that confusing bit I really enjoyed the movie and I guess I am pretty happy Jeniffer was in this movie cause well… she’s hot as fuck , ’nuff said