Release Date(s)2013 (October 8, 2013)
- Film/Program Grade: B-
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: B
Once an iconic horror character crosses the line between creepy and camp, it can be difficult, if not downright impossible, to drag them back from the abyss. After the classic Universal Monsters met Abbott and Costello, it was all over for them. Wes Craven made a noble attempt at returning Freddy to his roots with his New Nightmare with variable results. Now it’s Chucky’s turn with creator Don Mancini’s Curse of Chucky.
Correctly assuming that Seed of Chucky had taken everyone’s favorite Good Guy as far as it could go into self-parody (once you’ve cast John Waters as a tabloid photographer and named Chucky’s kid after Ed Wood’s Glen Or Glenda, you’ve pretty much scaled the heights of absurdity), Curse gets back to basics. Chucky inexplicably arrives at a remote New England home shared by the disabled Nica (Fiona Dourif) and her mother. Mom mysteriously dies soon after, officially ruled a suicide, and Nica’s shrewish sister Barb (Danielle Bisutti) and her family arrive to lend a hand. But Chucky has other plans, latching on to Barb’s daughter Alice (Summer Howell) because this is still a movie about a killer doll, so there needs to be a kid somewhere for the premise to make even the slightest bit of sense.
On the one hand, it’s kind of refreshing that Curse of Chucky isn’t a remake or reboot or whatever we’re calling them this week. It’s a legitimate sequel to the first five movies. And what kind of a sad state is the movie industry in when we’re actually glad to see a sequel? Anyway, the continuity between films provides Curse with quite a few moments that work extremely well for fans of the series. It also makes for a very bumpy narrative that requires a lot of willful suspension of disbelief. There is a reason Chucky is targeting this family. It turns out they played a large role in the pre-Chucky life of killer Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif, of course). But it’s a little weird that nobody ever mentioned it until now and that it’s taken Chucky 25 years to get around to wrapping up his unfinished business.
But Curse’s prime directive isn’t to provide a coherent timeline to Chucky’s adventures. It’s simply trying to make Chucky scary again and it mostly succeeds. Restricting most of the action to the house was probably necessitated by the budget but it helps make Chucky more threatening. Except for an endless and (possibly inadvertently) stomach-churning dinner scene in which Chucky poisons a random bowl of chili, the rest of the mayhem is well-executed. This is the foul-mouthed, shrieking Chucky from the original Child’s Play and it’s good to have him back.
The technical aspects of Universal’s Blu-ray/DVD/UltraViolet/iTunes-digital-copy/partridge-in-a-pear-tree combo pack are top-notch. Both the video and audio are outstanding, and it’s a good thing since home video is pretty much the only way anyone will ever see this. The set includes quite a few extras, many of which are quite good. Don Mancini, Fiona Dourif and lead puppeteer Tony Gardner provide a fine audio commentary. You get three production featurettes: the 15-minute Playing With Dolls: The Making of Curse of Chucky, the 8-minute Living Doll: Bringing Chucky To Life, and the 7-minute Voodoo Doll: The Chucky Legacy. Living Doll provides a lot of interesting technical footage and Playing With Dolls is fairly standard stuff. Voodoo Doll is a quick (probably too quick) overview of the entire franchise. There are also a number of interesting storyboard comparisons, introduced by Mancini, a gag reel, and a handful of deleted scenes. The disc includes both the R-rated version most people will probably never watch and the two-minute longer Unrated version.
The Chucky movies have been surprisingly resilient over the years. Even the worst of them have their moments. If you’ve stuck with the franchise this long, you probably won’t find much to complain about in Curse of Chucky. Honestly, when a series hits its sixth part, “it could have been much worse” is high praise. Curse certainly could have been worse and, in some ways, it’s probably better than it has any right to be.
- Dr. Adam Jahnke
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