Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Scary Movie Month, Day 8

Curse of Chucky

Perhaps it's just a case of low expectations, but I thought this latest entry in the Child's Play franchise (the sixth, for those keeping score) was a blast.

Lots of franchises will point at a late entry and say that it's where they wanted to go back to basics to make their killer scary again. The shocking thing is, the killer doll franchise that devolved into straight-up comedy in the 4th and 5th entries is one of the few series that managed to do exactly that, and even more astoundingly they did it without ignoring the ones that came before. This is also the first Chucky movie to debut direct to video, so the fact that it's watchable at all is a major feat, the fact that it's as good as it is is practically miraculous.

Series creator Don Mancini (he wrote or co-wrote all six movies, this is the second one he directed) truly brings things back to basics, keeping Chucky mostly offscreen for a good portion of the movie and concentrating on suspense (though gorehounds needn't worry, when the kills come they're suitably gruesome). There's a scene involving a poisoned bowl of chili that manages to create real tension, something we haven't seen in a Child's Play movie since the first one.

The basic plot finds Chucky menacing a wealthy family in a large house, and it's set up almost like a haunted house movie, only the audience knows that the threat is real. Mancini does an admirable job showcasing the geography of the house so we always know where the characters are in relation to one another, and manages a few decent jolts along the way. Brad Dourif is fun, as always, as the voice of Chucky and his daughter Fiona Dourif is a standout in the lead role. The movie gets pretty crazy as it builds toward the conclusion, and it feels like Mancini is having lots of fun with the world he helped create.

Fans of the series (and I don't know who else would be watching this, honestly) should be sure to stick around after the credits. There's a stinger that makes absolutely no narrative sense, but should still leave you with a smile on your face.

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