After the outright campy mess, Seed of Chucky which derailed the franchise a decade ago, Curse of Chucky is a return to the franchise’s horror roots. In this latest installment of the twenty-five year old series, the tone is more inline with the original even if this low-budget sequel isn’t anywhere in its class. There has been a conscious decision on the part of creator/writer/director Dan Mancini to step away from the humor and go back to the original concept. The constant quips and self referential in-jokes have been replaced by a semi-serious vibe that quickly exposes this sixth chapter as a less than mediocre horror story with nothing original or compelling to add to the mix.
Curse of Chucky is reminiscent of the Darkman direct-to-video sequels that Universal Pictures released in the late 1990′s. Each are well produced and crafted by supporting creative forces on previous installments, now given their time to helm. The inherent problem is that Chucky is a uniquely 1980′s concept. Most accurately seen as a metaphor for times when parents would storm toy store shelves during the holidays for a Cabbage Patch Kid, a Beanie Baby or even Tickle Me Elmo. I’m not sure the idea is relatable in this era. Dolls are typically creepy and a talking, killer toy is a unique villain, but in a time of found footage franchises and torture porn series, Chucky just may well be…child’s play.
The story has been written by series originator Dan Mancini, which is surprising considering the ineptitude and awkwardness of the opening act. Things start with the homicidal doll committing a bit of murderous mischief in that opening stanza, only to be relegated to the sidelines until the midway point. Up to that point, we are straddled with some of the most uninteresting characters to populate a mainstream horror film in some time. Motivation and depth are lacking in the writing department, and outside of one surprise encounter between the babysitter and her employer, the first 45 minutes are lifeless.
Leave it to voice-artist Brad Dourif’s line delivery, and the still comical sight of a children’s toy spewing curse words and committing crimes, to narrowly save the film from being a total bomb. In recalling the picture, I realized my problem is with the Chucky doll itself, this go around the size of the toy has been dramatically upscaled. He is larger physically than in any previous incarnation, when a child picks Chucky up, she is nearly dwarfed by the doll. Perhaps it is in an attempt to give Chucky a more intimating presence, instead it just leaves gaps for the audience to question and spot the shifting scale and dimensions of the possessed toy.
Am I expecting too much from a V-movie (direct to vid B-Movie) sequel to a franchise over a quarter century old? Maybe, but when the original creative team attempts to rejuvenate the concept and the result is this dull, its apparent that this premise has worn thin.
Director: Don Mancini
Stars: Fiona Dourif, Chantal Quesnelle, Danielle Bisutti