It’s pretty strange to pick up a horror movie box set (something you probably won’t be shocked to hear I do fairly often) that actually contains a brand new entry in the series. I’ve always enjoyed the Chucky movies, both the serious and ridiculous ones. For a while they were talking about doing a remake, which seemed unnecessary but the fact that the series’ creator, Don Mancini, would actually be heading the remake at least made it sound promising. Still though, why a remake? Why not just make another one and keep the series’ going?
Turns out they found the perfect balance between remake and sequel and the results are far better than I expected.
I do admit going into this one with, perhaps not low but definitely measured expectations. As much as I enjoy the series, straight to DVD low budget sequels have often not panned out too well for horror franchises in the past. I’m honestly sitting here trying to think of a franchise that pulled it off. I guess a couple of the Wrong Turn ones were passable? I even tried searching “good straight to dvd horror sequels” on Google and all of the matches are still for the worst ones, so there you have it. There’s so few of them a list can’t even physically be put together. Basically this has been a ridiculously long-winded way for me to say that I didn’t have high hopes for this. But man, they really pulled it off.
Our main girl is wheelchair bound Nika, played by Fiona Douriff (yes she is indeed the daughter of Brad Dourif, the voice of Chucky). She is staying with her Mother in this large gothic mansion, complete with old rustic elevator. Then one day the Mom receives a Good Guy doll named Chucky in the mail from an unknown sender. The Mother then doesn’t survive the opening scene for possibly Chucky related reasons, at which point Nika’s family comes to stay with her. You have her sister, her brother-in-law, their daughter, their nanny, and then their Priest, whose presence never failed to confuse me but whatever.
The characters are actually far more fleshed out than I was expecting. The details of Nika’s handicap are revealed naturally over time, there’s never the expected moment where she gives the dramatic speech about her disability. The sister is clearly the character you’re meant to root against, and is a fairly one dimensional bitch who wants her sister to leave the house so she can sell it. There are also a couple of twists involving some of the characters that I genuinely did not see coming. They’re interesting people to watch, and the movie makes it easy to both root for and against them.
Curse goes back to the original movie’s idea of spending half the movie with Chucky in the background. The doll is almost always around, but most of the time he’s sitting there motionless with his creepy stare, or you get an inset shot of him getting up to some murder business. Obviously we know he’s Chucky so it doesn’t go fully down the “oooo is the child a murderer or is it actually the doll?!” route and waste our time. But they do a surprisingly good job of wringing tension out of the idea that we know he’s Chucky but none of the characters do. Who would have thought that even after all these years, shots of a doll staring at you or suddenly vanishing from the background could still be effective?
While I can’t quite say the movie is “scary”, it’s at the very least pretty effective. An early scene where Chucky has placed rat poison in one of six meals is a great example of a tense scene as we then spend several minutes watching the family eat, waiting to see which one of them is going down. There’s also a well-done piece where Nika is holding Chucky on her lap during a power outage, and basically any scene where you’re waiting for Chucky to finally reveal himself is relatively tense. They even manage a couple of true jump scares, one of which definitely got me. It’s more funhouse scary than true scary, but it’s far more successful than I could have anticipated.
As for Chucky himself, I’m happy to report that they keep with the classic style and Chucky is an actual puppet for the scenes where he’s up and running around. Sure it can sometimes look a little janky, but I know it looks better than CGI as there is one unfortunate scene containing a clearly computer generated Chucky that simply doesn’t work as well. The gore also is rarely CGI enhanced which is fantastic, and you do get yourself some pretty good kills so no worries there.
While Curse of Chucky definitely plays closer to the original in terms of plot and atmosphere, it thankfully doesn’t forget about the sequels, even the later sillier ones such as Bride and Seed of Chucky. I don’t want to give away too much about the story, but I was very satisfied with how they tie this into the overall mythology and was pleased with just how much effort they go through to connect everything together.
Curse of Chucky is a huge surprise. It effectively returns to the classic Child’s Play formula while also furthering the story of the overall series. It’s absolutely worth a look of you’re a fan of the series and immediately made me curious as to where things could continue on from here. I never would have expected this entry to become one of the best in the series, but it absolutely earns that distinction. Check it out.