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Curse of Chucky

2013 | 97 min | R | 1.85:1

Curse of Chucky


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Curse of Chucky Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, September 26, 2013

Admittedly, the idea of Chucky the killer doll was always a little goofy, but the original “Child’s Play” pulled off the tonality of horror and absurdity with skill, launching the character as an unlikely horror icon. While 1998’s “Bride of Chucky” had a certain irreverent snap to it, the sequels have largely missed the mark when it comes to making the doll menacing, with 2004’s “Seed of Chucky” representing the bottom of the barrel in terms of creativity. After nearly a decade of dormancy, creator Don Mancini just can’t let the Good Guy go, resurrecting the plastic killer for “Curse of Chucky,” a DTV sequel that aims to restore severity to the wheezing franchise, though it doesn’t bring anything new to the table beyond a brief makeover for its knee-high star.

Paraplegic Nica (Fiona Dourif) lives at home with her protective mother, trying to avoid reminders of her physical disability and heart troubles. When Good Guy doll Chucky (voiced by Brad Dourif) is delivered to the house one afternoon, Nica disregards the strange arrival, only to find her mother dead the next day. Reuniting with sister Barb (Danielle Bisutti) after a long absence, Nica is forced to consider a move, with a lucrative house sale potentially on the horizon. Barb’s daughter Alice (Summer H. Howell) eventually discovers Chucky, immediately bonding with the weird doll, who unleashes his malevolent wrath once the sun goes down, picking off family members one at a time. Nica, researching the murderous appetites of Chucky, discovers a connection to serial killer Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif), setting out to warn everyone of the doll’s demonic presence before the killer has a chance to finish what he started.

“Curse of Chucky” is deceptive, initially positioning itself as a reboot of the series, with brand new characters and a facelift for the doll, hinting at a fresh direction for the sequel. Mancini (who scripts and directs) tosses away the slapstick tone of “Seed,” moving forward some degree of seriousness, constructing direct connections to the original 1988 film that tinker with course-correcting the ongoing narrative, returning Chucky to his intimidating, maniacal ways. Unfortunately, Mancini doesn’t have much of the budget to work with, keeping “Curse” contained solely to Nica’s house, only leaving the premises in the finale, while the red-headed ghoul doesn’t truly begin his reign of terror until midway through the feature, leaving the set-up useless to fans who’ve stuck with the franchise for 25 years. It’s not as though Mancini is delivering blisteringly clever material to hold attention. Instead, he dishes up one-dimensional characters with thin motivations, while keeping the doll close to Alice to reheat the child-in-peril routine.

Once the movie gets going, with Chucky stalking and slashing the visiting family over the course of a stormy night, “Curse” becomes routine, watching the doll terrorize startled victims who never quite realize they could easily elude a two-foot-tall enemy. Chucky retains his trusty knife for much of the feature, but there’s an electrocution and an extended sequence involving a single bowl of poisoned chili at dinner time that I assume is director’s attempt to add prolonged Hitchcockian suspense to the proceedings. “Curse” has its gore, but it’s a labored effort, hampered by a limited (and dull) location the production struggles to ignite with gothic lighting, and the kills themselves aren’t very interesting, even when dusted with Dourif-squealed one-liners. It’s back to basics for Chucky (his CGI and fresh animatronic makeover is impressive, but underutilized), though Mancini doesn’t seem all that enthused to create memorable moments of terror.

“Curse” has its one speed of survival for much of the film, though it soon embarks on a series of twists that tie into the entire franchise, not just “Child’s Play.” There’s a thrill in seeing a few old faces, including Dourif, who reprises his role as madman Ray (digital smoothing takes care of any aging concerns), but these are only a few blips of life in an otherwise flatlining movie. Die-hard fanatics might be more welcoming to certain scripted detours, but “Curse” can’t shake its groggy DTV presentation, feeling like a cheap experiment to see if the faithful will follow the series now that theatrical demand has passed.

Starring: Fiona Dourif, Brad Dourif, Danielle Bisutti, Chantal Quesnelle, Maitland McConnell
Director: Don Mancini

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Get ready for "Curse of Chucky" 47 Oct 13, 2013

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