dir. Don Mancini
reviewed by Dakota Drobnicki
Even with all of the different directions the Child’s Play franchise took over the years, Don Mancini has remained the one consistent showrunner pinning all seven films together. He wrote all of the films up to Bride of Chucky before also taking on directorial duty from Seed of Chucky onward, and his consistent involvement with the series is an apparent rarity for a franchise of Child’s Play‘s stature. Not even Charles Band was involved with all of the Puppet Master films, for example.
After Seed of Chucky, my personal favorite of the series, it fell into an unfortunate dormancy that seemed to be based around thankfully scrapped plans for a reboot. Nine years later, the new sequel Curse of Chucky popped up direct-to-video and received surprisingly positive reception throughout a lot of the horror community, praising its more serious tone compared to the last two films.
That is, except for me and a number of my own friends in the community that hated it to high heaven. Since a number of us were big fans of those more comedic entries, the almost uncharacteristic way Chucky acted in the film was a massive turnoff, not to mention the awful, inconsistent CGI shots of him and the ugly, extremely desaturated look it had. How does its followup four years later fare?
In this one, Nica Pierce (Fiona Dourif, Brad’s daughter) has been admitted to a psych ward after the events of Curse, and is surrounded by a well-developed cast of characters including the sexually abusive Dr. Foley (Michael Therriault) who brings in a new Chucky doll in an ill-advised attempt to try and help Nica cope. Before long, both Tiffany Valentine (Jennifer Tilly) and Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) get more Chucky dolls into the hospital, and before long there’s three Chuckys roaming around this hospital wreaking havoc! It’s up to Nica and Andy, operating independently of one another, to try and stop Chucky’s new reign of terror.
This, uh… this is my second favorite of the franchise. No doubt in my mind about that. If you’re a fan of this franchise from beginning to end, even if you were also alienated by Curse of Chucky (although I should revisit it sometime soon to see if I still hate it), this is a wild ride you should have no problem giving into, because this movie is made for you.
Newcomers need not apply, because you won’t know who a lot of these characters are and the movie won’t get you up to speed.
When Chucky isn’t wreaking havoc on screen, the human characters are given a lot of time to develop into a pretty well-rounded group of victims. Everyone has their own decently laid out story for why they’re also in this psych ward that makes their deaths horrifying, even if the rather basic and overused term “scary” doesn’t quite apply to this franchise anymore. When any number of him is on screen, the new absurd spins on his mythos and the grotesque kills he gets in make this the most refreshing direct-to-video sequel that any horror franchise has had in a long, long time.
It’s the kind of movie that gives you more questions than it answers, but it’s so awesome that as long as you aren’t the filmgoer that tunes out in the face of absurd logic, you aren’t going to care. How does the multiple Chucky thing work? Does it stress out Charles Lee Ray’s soul to be possessing so many entities at the same time? Who knows? Who cares when your jaw is on the floor while a nurse is brutally carved up by three Chuckys at the same time, in a manner that feels fresh out of a gorier Full Moon flick?
This is easily the most fun horror film of the year so far, moreso than It, Beyond The Gates and the admittedly overrated The Void! As psyched as I am for Jigsaw and its impending Spierig brothery goodness, it’d be hard-pressed to beat this! (I don’t plan on comparing them.) If you’re already a big fan of Chucky, strap yourself in and feel the breeze as this movie shoots you into the heavens of wild horror absurdity.
One last note: for a direct-to-video film, this is one gorgeous experience. Even with a clear HD video-esque sheen, it gives off the same kind of beautiful sterility A Cure For Wellness did at a tiny fraction of that film’s budget. I know this went straight to video because that worked for Curse too, but if something as appalling and dreadfully photographed as The Bye Bye Man can get a theatrical release, this movie deserved one too.