Another reboot of a franchise. One that has already gone through a rebooting of the concept.
In 1998 after the original cycle of Child’s Play movies came to an end with the limp Child’s Play 3 (unfairly signaled out as a scapegoat over the Jamie Bulger trial), Chucky was reinvented with 1998’s Bride Of Chucky bringing in a more comedic slant and becoming very self referential. Who can blame them? The late 90s was a post Scream world after all, everyone was doing it. But Bride Of Chucky was an exceptional example.
Now we get rebooted for the 25th anniversary of Child’s Play with Curse Of Chucky and the first half of the film plays very much like a reboot of Child’s Play.
A Chucky doll arrives in the post to an artist, Sara (Chantal Quesnelle) and her disabled adult child Nica (Fiona Dourif). Sara is found in the morning stabbed and her death is claimed a suicide. The family rallies together with Nica’s older sibling Barb, her husband, 5 year old daughter and nanny arriving at the house. Cue lots of creepy slow shots of the doll doing…well nothing. It really plays on the ‘you know it’s a killer doll, we know you know it’s a killer doll, so the only question remains is when is it going to move”. They string this out just long enough for it to be interesting but not so long that you are screaming at the screen “Just fucking do something!” After that it plays out like a slasher movie with victims trapped in a house with a killer. But it is very well done. I think it helps that apart from the nanny character none of the characters were the generic disposable teens/sexy twenty-somethings, just having the variety of a married couple and daughter, a nanny and a wheelchair bound sister made it feel fresh.
So far so good, it seems we have disposed of the jokey, comedic tone of the Bride Of and Seed Of Chucky and have gone back to the scares of the Child’s Play movies.
Where the film stepped up for me is half way through the movie, Barb peels away at the skin (?) on Chucky face to reveal the scarred and stitched Chucky first seen in Bride Of Chucky and it suddenly becomes visually apparent that this film is honouring both the Child’s Play movies and the ‘Of Chucky movies. Not just honouring, it is continuing the story and, indeed, adding back story to the original Child’s Play. So now we are confronted with a film that has the serious tone and horror of the Child’s Play films with the self referential style of the Bride and Seed. A blend that is perfect for 21st century audiences.
When I first thought about writing this review I thought my angle might be that how many other film series have great Part 6’s? Well obviously Friday The 13th Part 6 –Jason Lives is my favourite of that series. One of the best Bond movies is widely acknowledged to be On Her Majesty Secret Service and that is a 6. Abbott And Costello Meet The Mummy (1955), Abbott And Costello Meet The Invisible Man, Sherlock Holmes Faces Death (1943), are all part 6s. The Avengers (2012) could be argued as a Part 6, Mario Bava’s Hercules In The Haunted World is a 6, the Godzilla tale Invasion Of The Astro Monster (1965), Santo Vs The Diabolical Brian (1963) and of course Torchy Gets Her Man (1938), part 6 of the Torchy Blaine series. So that argument went up in smoke!
I suppose it has helped that the same person has been writing the escapades of Chucky for the past 25 years. Don Mancini has managed to make this film feel fresh and accessible yet by the end of the film you were aware that this was part 6 of a series without feeling excluded. A nice twist on the standard ending leaves you excited for part 7!
Adam J Marsh