Vic’s Review – “Curse of Chucky” (2013)

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What’s it About?

After her mother’s mysterious death, Nica begins to suspect that the talking, red-haired doll her visiting niece has been playing with may be the key to recent bloodshed and chaos.

“Curse of Chucky”

Directed by Don Mancini

By Vic

Writer, director and “Chucky” creator Don Mancini (Seed of Chucky) returns to  his seminal horror franchise with “Curse of Chucky,” the latest installment which comes nine years after “Seed of Chucky” which he wrote and directed as well. Despite some lengthy talks with Universal and David Kirschner, over which to do first,  a remake/reboot or a direct to video entry, Mancini was given the greenlight to do a sequel late last year for a Halloween release this year. It was to be a  completely different entity apart from the broader and eagerly awaited remake.

The sequel, “Curse of Chucky” (changed from “Revenge of Chucky”) was promised to be a more gutteral, scary and uncomedic return to form for Mancini, Dourif and company. Supposedly as a result of fans wanting less humor, more fright and uncompromising scares in another film.

Obviously, that is no easy task considering that horror junkies love sequels but can be fickle whenever a sequel makes a promise to return to what initially made an original first entry like Tom Holland’s “Child’s Play” so popular. Even throughout the Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees films we occasionally would get some attempts, hit and miss alike, to go back to basics. So, Mancini had his work cut out for him. I can safely say that despite the low budget and straight to video stigma, “Curse of Chucky,” has a bit of retro horror charm that keeps it’s head barely above water. Mancini manages this by re-visiting older themes, motifs and supplying some well placed scares. Cheaply made and slimly stylish the movie is a minimally capable, time filling horror romp. But even with little feet like his, this Chucky still stumbles and clunks around a bit.

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Brad Dourif’s real life daughter, actress Fiona Dourif (The Master and True Blood) stars as NIca, a young woman confined to her wheelchair since an early age. She and her depressed mother, Sarah live together in a large, almost “Bates” like house that is old, beaten and dreary looking. Soon after receiving a large package which turns out to be a new “Good Guy” doll, Sarah is found dead by Nica from an apparent suicide. Nica’s sister, the bitchy Barb (Danielle Bisutti from Insidious 2) and her husband Ian, a nanny along with their daughter Alice (Summer Howell) turn up for the funeral and to try to re-locate the handicapped Nica.

They also try to get her to sell the home. Nica refuses. Soap actor A Martinez (LA Law) plays Father Frank, an old family friend. Before cooking dinner with her aunt, Alice discovers Chucky (Or perhaps it’s the other way around) and she instantly grows attached to him. Chucky appears brand spanking new in this movie, too. His clothes and hair are clean and his face is un-scarred, He looks innocent enough which is a good way to re-establish him much like the trusting sidekick doll he was to Andy so many years before.

While Nica and Alice make dinner and they are not watching, Chucky springs into action and starts to try and pick off the dinner guests starting with Father Frank (There is a car accident scene with the poor padre that is quite intense). Mancini’s dinner scene is actually quite suspenseful with a classic Hitchcockian vibe to it.  Meanwhile, Mancini’s script covers some interesting ground as he slowly builds up mood and an eerie sense of dread surrounding the house, Alice, Nica and even the Au Pair that Barb and Ian hired to watch Alice.

The movie delves into some erotic, deranged and somewhat hokey tropes but the pace keeps the distractions at bay so we can pay attention to the star of the piece: Chucky. Well, things keep going wrong and Chucky starts his rampage as he speaks only to Alice and convinces her to keep quiet since no one will believe her story of a foul mouthed Good Guy doll. (In one playful and funny moment she asks Chucky to: “Stop cursing.”

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Nica, Barb and Ian are left to wonder what is going on with Alice and Chucky while Chucky has plans of his own to eliminate the rest of the family.  Nica researches the history of the doll after Father Frank recalls seeing Chucky on the news. Her research takes her back to the history of the first film and the events surrounding Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif). As she looks in further, other are harmed in grotesque ways. Nica is blamed and she has to contend to trying to prove her innocence to Barb and Ian all the while discovering that Chucky has an axe to grind with her family and that he is out for revenge and to finish what he started 20+ years before. Mancini touches upon Chucky lore and tries to keep it fresh.

He has a good grasp of camera movement, placement and composition here and this bit of creative flourish from DP Michael Marshall (Ginger Snaps Back) creates very smooth mood and style. Something that Mancini wants while his horror film plays out. Mancini’s film sometimes looks pretty good and creepy and he made the right decision in making the house a character in the film, it even sports a freaky elevator that creaks and moans as it’s used.

There are plenty of shock scares, sexual inuendos, close calls and when Chucky is found out by Nica the movies charges into high gear. Dourif is great  to hear once again and see as well. He is back in some flashbacks that reveal events right before the onset of “Child’s Play.” Dourif’s daughter, Fiona is pretty good here. She is believable and completely capable in the role of someone wheelchair bound. During the film’s character exploration she becomes a sympathetic person we can relate to. She is the only very good artist on display here along with the young Howell. Chucky is kind of hit or miss.

There is a reveal that some of the original trilogy purists will definitely hate since it ties the film, which I thought was trying to distance itself from, to the 2 later entries. Chucky is also rendered up in some hokey CGI that is a bit laughable and cringe inducing. In close ups (before his face undergoes it’s evil transformation), Chucky’s face seems so photo-shopped smooth and perfect that he appears wildly effeminate and fake. When the shots of him running do not linger long, he comes across ok, though.

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Other shots of Chucky with axes and knives look ok as they cut to and fro between an Animatronic version of him and there is one pretty freaky scene of Chucky coming down the steps from the attic that looks almost like something out of a Ray Harryhausen movie. Mancini controls the levels of fright well but something seems amiss and I think it’s the story. Well, there isn’t much of one. I don’t know why that should bother me since this is just a horror flick but it does. It appears sometimes that the film is just piggy backing “Child’s Play” with a very anemic subplot involving Nica’s mother and father.

It was like they were jumping up and down and yelling: “Look! We are connecting this movie to “Child’s Play!” Isn’t that novel?” or “We are doing flashbacks! Cool, right?” Mancini’s “Curse of Chucky” is a throwback but not completely in the way I would have liked. It harks back to more trashy cinema but without anything new to add to the mix. Some sequences are just ok and others are more pedestrian in execution. It’s fun to see Chucky back, though, but I would have liked a bit more punch in the style, action and atmosphere.

Most of the confrontations scenes are cool especially when Chucky tries to eliminate Nica in her garage. The movie also has inconsistencies that the viewers will immediately recognize and shrug their shoulders at. This all leads me to what I really took points off for. The last act and ending. After things start to conclude Mancini shoves a “what the fuck?” moment down our throat which involves a cameo from a character…not one from the original trilogy but the last 2 entries! Argh! What? As soon as this happens the timeline and resolution gets all fucked up and I was madly confused. Then they add insult to injury and include another scene with Alice and Chucky that appears like it’s from some other movie.

The 2 scenes negate each other and just succeed in completely blowing off everything that made the film stand on it’s own for an hour and a half. Too bad too. It felt way too tacked on and forced. I have no idea what the continuity, order of events or time lime are in this entry. Does it take place after 3 or after the 5th film? I dunno. I don’t think Mancini knows either, And what of the remake/reboot? How confusing is that shit gonna be? I’m no expert on the order of the movie but I was lost, man. Really lost.

This Chucky movie was a missed opportunity. I was glad to see Chucky back even though he looked like a cross between a female muppet and a red headed hippy sometimes. I liked the way Mancini shot the movie and the mood he obtained. His decision to center on events before “Child’s Play” was questionable and trite. I liked Fiona and Brad Dourif in this of course. I dug  Joe Lo Duca’s score too.

The whole movie tried valiantly to jump back into that retro pool of schlocky horror and it barely succeeds. It pushed out a bit of charm here and there during some “winks” to the fans which was ok. It isn’t a terrible movie but it’s a bit tired looking and just looks cheap. What really cooked my noodles, though, was the really convoluted ending that appeared as if someone incorrectly edited in 2 wrong scenes to screw up the continuity. Oh and don’t forget to stay watching after the end credits for yet another ending that will just further confuse the shit out of you.

Fans of the original trilogy will go ape shit over it, though. If you need a time waster, though, “Curse of Chucky” will suffice but just be ready to be reminded of when this franchise was actually fresh and interesting. The rating reflects the nostalgia feel of the film for the most part. Look out for “Orphan Black’s” Jordan Gavaris in a cameo as a UPS delivery dude.

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17 comments

  1. I’ve only seen up to part two. Like you mentioned, a lot of fans were hoping for less comedy. I’d agree. I always enjoy Brad Dourif in full on menace mode. Never what I considered a great franchise, but was hoping for a decent outing this time around.

    • CoC is a frustrating flick. It was great to see Dourif back and he was quite menacing for the most part but the story is ludicrous and confusing.

      It’s an ok time waster but if a little more time was spent on making the material really scary, it would have improved things.

      And the direct to video, low budget stigma, here, is kind of warranted. Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate it!

  2. I love the 1st 3 Chucky movies…last 2 were ehhh and just saw “The Curse of Chucky”…for the most part I thought it was ok, I liked how it went back to the old Chucky instead of the comedic side. The only part that threw me off was when they brought Tiffany in…in Bride of Chucky when she brings Chucky back to life she tells em, it took her so many years to find em and all that, yet at the end of this one, she comes back to help em and I was like wtf??? also they mention Andy and I was hoping they’d bring Andy back so Chucky could finally end him yet….nothing…all in all, I agree with your rating…6…6.5 outta 10

    • The arrival of Tiffany was when the movie started to give me a headache. The timeline, imo, got all screwy and I didn’t know if I was watching a flashback or another part of the movie with different characters. Then the last scene with Chucky and the girl felt negated because of Tiffany’s scene. And on and on…

      Did you keep watching the movie through to the end? After the final credits end? Make sure you do! Thanks for the comment and for stopping by, Alex. Much appreciated!

  3. I’ve only seen the original (which I liked) and Seed (which I hated), this one was another one that I didn’t like through most of it. I disagree with you on the dinner scene. I immediately knew which dinner guest got the rat poisoned food and therefore thought the attempts at tension with all the poison fake-outs were laughable, though I did like the car crash payoff. I thought the death scenes were well done and there were some good ideas in there (like the nanny-cam). I thought Fiona Dourif did a great job, and as someone who hasn’t seen the middle movies, and even though I didn’t like Seed of Chucky I absolutely LOVED the cameo at the end. I thought it was a great surprise and it worked well. I also didn’t mind the final scene even though it sets up a really odd turn if there is going to be a sequel to this one.

    • Hey, Bubbawheat! Yeah, the car wreck part was kind of brutal and it was quite the payoff like you mentioned. As far as the dinner scene, I had guessed the priest as well but I was going under the assumption that some viewers (not all,mind you) might not want (Or may not be able to guess right away) to know right away and may find it a bit suspenseful. But, I do see your point. I dug Fiona Dourif, too. She has good presence, capable emotional range and agility to pull off the role. Brad, like always, was great to listen to.

      I am a fan, just not a BIG fan, of the first and the rest are just meh. My 2 sons love them all for some reason. My kid wants the boxed set for Christmas, lol. Anyway, Chucky isn’t even one of my favorite horror franchises. I thought CoC made a decent effort to channel the mood and style of the first. It just did not succeed all the way. My son and I liked the post credit cameo but I don’t think it added much to anything but a way to play with our nostalgia. The whole last act just gave me a headache. I appreciate your comments and candor, Bubbawheat. Thanks for stopping by, Buddy!

  4. Great review, Vic! Didn’t get around to seeing this one but might see if I can catch it on rental or something. Would it matter if I have only seen the first one (which was awesome)?

    • It may. Especially if you never got as far as Bride of Chucky. There will be a moment in CoC that will throw you off. But the rest is played out as a direct sequel to the first “Child’s Play.” I’d give it a go for sure. A rental should be fine. Enjoy, Jim!

    • I never expected to go so long on this one, lol. Particularly with a film that only gets a 6 rating. But I would definitely give it at least one watch, Bill. You may like it a lot more than I did.

      My son has been trying to get me to re-visit it, in order to see if my rating may change. Not sure yet but down the line, I may give it another break.

      Sorry if the review got long winded, man 🙂
      Thanks for stopping by and reading it! I appreciate it.

    • Funny thing, Bill. My son, Christian, read it and felt it was a tad too brief and he suggested I “pad it” a bit, so there you go, lol…

      I’m glad you liked it, bro. I appreciate the kind words 🙂 Thanks for stopping in and checking it out!

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