Curse of Chucky (2013)

Don Mancini

Brad Dourif - Charles Lee Ray/Voice of Chucky
Fiona Dourif - Nica
Danielle Bisutti - Barb
A Martinez - Father Frank
Brennan Elliott - Ian
Maitland McConnell - Jill
Summer H. Howell - Alice
Chantal Quesnelle - Sarah

Genre - Horror/Mystery/Supernatural/Slasher

Running Time - 97 Minutes

In a creepy mansion, paraplegic Nica (Fiona Dourif) receives a package for her mother, Sarah (Chantal Quesnelle) - a Good Guy Doll that both ladies believe is one of those joke gifts. Sarah dumps the doll into the trash, which sets off a familiar chain of events that lead to Sarah's mysterious death.

As Nica grieves and blames herself, the rest of her family show up to pay respect, as well as wanting to sell the mansion to make money off of it, much to Nica's displeasure. Nica's young niece, Alice (
Summer H. Howell), takes a liking to Chucky - who wants to be Alice's friend til the end.

As the family settle in, the members begin dropping like flies as they bicker over the past. As all things point to Alice, it's soon realized that Chucky (
Voiced by Brad Dourif) is alive and well - back to his old tricks to even a score from his Charles Lee Ray days that he has not forgotten.

CURSE OF CHUCKY is probably one of the most anticipated horror films of 2013. There hasn't been a CHILD'S PLAY film since 2004, with the much disliked SEED OF CHUCKY [I liked it though] bombing at the box office and making many fans question the future of the franchise. While a sequel was picked over a planned reboot [which would change the tone back to horror and away from comedy], the anticipation rose. But then news came out that Chucky's look would be part-CGI, as well as the film receiving a direct-to-DVD/Blu-Ray instead of a theatrical release - the first for the series. When you learn that a film is going straight to home video, it's usually not a good sign. Then the trailer was released and I had mixed feelings about Chucky's look and the premise somewhat. I was still excited for the film, but I wasn't going to raise my expectations to soften the disappointment I was sure to experience.

I finally got to watch CURSE OF CHUCKY and... I really liked it to my surprise. I was expecting a lame sequel, and instead I got a film that took the franchise full circle and made it pretty awesome again. After 25 years [God, I'm old], Chucky is still a force to be reckoned with and has a group of people supporting him to create a sequel that should have been released in theaters - it's that good.

I won't get too much into the narrative. There are twists and turns in the story that would be too easy to give away, and I want the viewers to be surprised by the cameos and the character arcs taken throughout the film. I will say that I did like the script. The dialogue felt believable. I felt the connection to the first film didn't feel forced at all, since we never really got to see much of anything when Chucky was still human. I love that CURSE OF CHUCKY plays out like a haunted house movie, just without ghosts and spirits scaring those inside the house. There's a genuine creepy atmosphere that I appreciated, as most of the film was pretty bleak.

The characters, while not fully fleshed out, were still written well enough to be interesting. Nica, stuck in a wheelchair, made for a strong and intelligent heroine who was an unwilling participant in Chucky's latest scheme. Her sister, Barb, was a real bitch who had her own secrets that made her a total hypocrite. She treated Nica like crap because the girl is handicapped and she resented the attention Nica received because of it. She neglected her husband, and hired a nanny so the nanny could take care of Alice. Alice was like a female version of Andy Barclay from the original CHILD'S PLAY films. It was actually nice to have a kid in these films again, as it made Chucky's motivation to "Hide the Soul" more threatening.

As for Chucky himself, this was probably the best use of the character since CHILD'S PLAY 2. While you see a lot of the doll, he doesn't utter a real word until 45 minutes into the film, where he reveals himself. The mystery of the film is not about Chucky. It's about the reasons as to why Chucky wanted to be at this mansion to begin with. And the reasoning will not disappoint, as I was convinced by Chucky's scheme and wanted to see where it would all go. Chucky is still the same sarcastic, foul-mouthed doll that he's always been. But it's not played for laughs. Chucky is pretty serious this time around and I appreciated that. The doll was on a mission and he was not fooling around. I really enjoyed this version of Chucky, because it reminded me of the old Chucky from the first two movies.

If I did have any issues with the narrative, it probably stems from the multiple endings CURSE OF CHUCKY seems to suffer from. I'm usually not a fan of the multi-ending some films seem to have these days. It's as if Don Mancini [returning to direct after SEED OF CHUCKY] didn't know how to end the film to please everyone, so he decided to leave all the endings in. Are the endings themselves terrible? Not even close. I liked all of them. But I wish he had just stuck to one, because the last two end scenes seem to contradict each other, making me wonder which one actually happened. Honestly, I would have preferred the after-credits scene [which must be seen for old-school CHILD'S PLAY fans] to be the final ending, as I felt it was better than the actual one used. There was more fan service in that final scene that would have made enough sense to work.

Also, I wish Alice was in the film more. I like the fact that Chucky attaches himself to a child, just to mess with them psychologically before attempting to transfer his soul into them. The little girl is missing for much of the final act, making that feeling of danger lessen because Chucky isn't really threatening her. I think it would have made for a nice throwback to the original film, as Chucky used Andy to get his body. More of that would have been appreciated in this sequel. But the focus wasn't really on Alice, but on Nica. In terms of the story, I'm good with that. But it just felt like a tease when it came to Alice.

The CGI used in CURSE OF CHUCKY was really distracting to me. It was as if the special effects team were unable to maintain one specific look for Chucky, for whatever reason. In one scene, he would look like a Good Guys Doll. In the next scene, he'd look Asian. Then he looks like something else. It took me out of the film a bit. Maybe it was a budget issue, I dunno. But I felt like I was watching HALLOWEEN H20 all over again, with the mask constantly changing looks from beginning to end. Fortunately, the CGI issue was non-existent during the last half of the film, thanks to a cool narrative twist. But during the first half, you'll chuckle at the many looks of Chucky.

The direction by Don Mancini is fantastic in CURSE OF CHUCKY. He did a good job with SEED OF CHUCKY, but he upped his game with this sequel. I think that had a lot to do with cinematographer Michael Marshall, who really helped Mancini create a dark, moody flick that used its setting extremely well. The mansion had a lot of components - bedrooms, bathrooms, the elevator, the attic - all used to the film's advantage to create memorable creepy moments that put a smile on your face, knowing that silly Chucky is gone after two sequels. The use of light and dark was great. I loved many of the angles and shot scales used in the film to enhance the tension and suspense. The flashbacks were done really well, and shot a bit differently to set them apart. And the kills, while not gory like in previous films, were still pretty neat due to their subtlety. In fact, it reminded me of a giallo film - only difference is that we know who the killer is. If there are more sequels, and I'm hoping there will be, Mancini and Marshall are the team to make them happen. I thought the visual presentation was fantastic. And it's hard to say that about a sixth movie in a horror franchise. But I loved the look and vibe of this movie quite a lot.

The acting, to my surprise, was probably the best since the first film. Brad Dourif still sounds great as Chucky. I also loved him as Charles Lee Ray in some flashbacks. It's obvious Dourif loves this character. Brad's daughter, Fiona Dourif, was a revelation as Nica. I thought she carried the film perfectly. She was extremely convincing as this smart, intelligent, yet vulnerable paraplegic lead who took initiative and fought back against Chucky. Fiona Dourif really created a fleshed out character you can root for. She's also very easy on the eyes, which made her presence all that more inviting. I want to see more of her in movies. I thought she was great.

The supporting actors were very good as well. Danielle Bisutti played a perfect bitch as Barb. Bisutti does an excellent job making you hate her, which worked for the film. Brennan Elliott was good as Ian, while Maitland McConnell was hot as nanny Jill. It was great to see A Martinez in a movie, as he played Father Frank well. And Summer H. Howell was one of those child actors who didn't annoy me, as I enjoyed her portrayal as Alice. Just a really great cast that made watching CURSE OF CHUCKY more entertaining than it had any right to be.


- The delivery guy was hitting on Nica. Usually the woman needs a wheelchair after the act, not before it.

- Nica's family members believed that bringing in religion would ease the pain of Nica's mom's death. Yeah, because religion did a marvelous job for Carrie White and her mom.

- Chucky enjoys listening to little girl's pee. Who knew that was his Number One priority?

- Chucky poisoned a bowl of chili, making one of the characters ill. Looks like he's not the Next Food Network Star...

- "The 80s were awesome." Tell me something I don't know, like "Where's the beef?"

- Jill, the nanny, likes to strip to her bra and panties before bed. Fran Drescher eat your heart out. This chick is making me MARY POPPINS in my pants!

- Chucky got decapitated at one point. That's no way to get ahead.

- Chucky tortured the hell out of Nica. Who knew training for the Special Olympics were so intense?

Who knew that CURSE OF CHUCKY would actually be one of the better entries in the CHILD'S PLAY franchise? It has a very good script, solid acting, stylish and atmospheric direction, some nice kills, and even throwbacks to previous films that fans will remember and love. While the CGI bugged me towards distraction, and some of the story arcs could have been better [too many endings too], I still managed to have fun with Chucky's latest adventure. I'm so glad Don Mancini has brought the franchise back to its horror roots, as SEED OF CHUCKY had taken the franchise too far into the comedy zone. This film was definitely an unexpected surprise, as I didn't think a sixth CHILD'S PLAY movie would be this good. This should have been theatrical, but what can you do? I'm looking forward to another sequel if the same team works on it. There's no CURSE when it comes to this CHUCKY movie.

3 Howls Outta 4

1 comment:

  1. Thanks...like many I'm sure, I've been iffy on this one. Now I'll have to give it a shot. Excellent review Sir...


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