DVD Review: Curse of Chucky (2013)

Curse of Chucky DVD CoverDistributor: Universal Pictures UK

BBFC Classification: 18

Director: Don Mancini

Starring: Brad Dourif, Fiona Dourif, Jordan Gavaris, Chantal Quesnelle, Danielle Bisutti, A . Martinez

It seemed to have taken forever to get a new Chucky film into production after the lukewarm reception that 2004′s Seed of Chucky received. In this age of remakes, reboots and belated sequels that change the mythologies of established franchises, rumours about a new Chucky film have cropped up every so often but never seemed to come to anything, leaving the killer doll slightly behind as the rest of modern horror’s icons got a modern makeover. But Curse of Chucky brings the pint-sized terror bang up to date, featuring the titular villain with a new face (sort of) and the tonal focus shifting back towards horror rather than the self-aware comedy of Seed of Chucky, which is something of a welcome relief.

Wheelchair-bound Nica (Fiona ‘Daughter of Brad’ Dourif) lives with her overbearing mother Sarah (Chantal Quesnelle) when a package containing a Good Guy doll named Chucky (Brad Dourif – The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers) arrives at the door without any explanation. That night Sarah dies in mysterious circumstances and Nica’s domineering older sister Barb (Danielle Bisutti) and her family – including husband Ian, young daughter Alice and live-in childminder Jill – move in to help settle family matters and to assist Nica.

Alice soon forms an attachment with Chucky and before long the bodies start to pile up, whilst Nica begins to suspect that Chucky may have something to do with it. Meanwhile, Chucky begins to take his revenge on Nica’s family as he has a personal score to settle from a long time ago.

The popularity of the Child’s Play/…of Chucky series is a bit strange as the premise of a killer doll isn’t really an original or credible one. A big chunk of that credit should go to Brad Dourif, who has voiced Chucky in all the films and manages to give the lump of plastic (or CGI effect, depending on which bit you’re watching at the time) a huge personality; in fact, a lot more than most modern horror film killers who aren’t children’s toys.

As well as Dourif delivering the goods, credit must also go to writer/director Don Mancini for adding a little style and flair to the camera work and using some Brian De Palma-style split-focus shots. The music is also first-rate, bringing to mind the score from Argento’s Suspiria, as does the setting of the family home which is barely lit and quite creepy.

And creepy is something that Curse of Chucky needed to be as Bride of Chucky and Seed of Chucky, despite being entertaining in their own right, really diluted what was essentially an already bland series into full-on comedy and lacked any suspense. The original Child’s Play had its moments but was essentially a bit of dumb fun, and the two immediate sequels added nothing, so Bride of Chucky‘s more comedic direction did the job at the time but in an era when horror – and its iconic monsters – were going darker and grittier, Chucky never seemed to fit quite right.

But Curse of Chucky does change that by giving a bit of a slow build, assuming that this is the first Chucky film we’ve seen – and for some of you it may be – and making the shock of having a killer doll revealed to the characters in the film be more effective. The gore is also great, with knives slashing and stabbing at quite a rate (along with a few other neat deaths and a brilliant decapitation), and although there are a few CGI touches here and there they are barely noticeable amongst the action.

As a real treat for fans of the series there are loads of in-jokes and references that aren’t obvious if you haven’t seen the original, and although they’re not rammed down your throat the film does go a little overboard in the final scenes (and do keep watching after the credits for a bit of fan-boy-pleasing fun). The ending does prove to be a little bit groansome considering the build-up but overall Curse of Chucky is a fun slasher film that is surprisingly decent considering how it could have gone and thankfully it does the franchise more good than harm. Now, how about tackling that Hellraiser reboot properly…?

Curse of Chucky

Special Features: Audio commentary with director Don Mancini, actress Fiona Dourif and puppeteer Tony Gardner, deleted scenes, gag reel, Playing With Dolls: The Making of Curse of Chucky featurette.

UK Release Date: 21st October 2013

Universal Pictures UK – Website

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