A new Chucky film was surprisingly more intriguing to me than getting yet another Freddy or Jason film. Maybe it’s because there have been less Child’s Play films. It could also be due to the intrigue of the series going back to its horror roots. Regardless, I was happy to take a chance on ol’ Chucky and felt pretty happy with the results. While not a new horror classic or even the best of the series, Curse of Chucky is a solid entry in a franchise that does not require a whole lot of ingenuity, as long as the doll is either scary or fun to watch. It also helps that this is a pretty solid Blu-ray presentation.
Curse of Chucky sets out to keep things pretty straight-forward. Set in present day, at a large, gothic mansion of sorts, a mysterious package arrives for Nica (Fiona Dourif). Within the package is a brand-new Goody Guys doll, which identifies itself as Chucky, of course. The package has no other information regarding who the sender may have been. Unfortunately, Nica’s mother mysteriously dies on the same day the package arrives. The next day, Nica’s sister Barb (Danielle Bisutti), her husband, Ian (Brennan Elliot), their daughter, Alice (Summer Howell), and a couple others arrive to deal with this death and what to do now, seeing as how Nica is wheelchair-bound in a big house, now all by herself. As the night carries on, one by one, the people in this house begin to suffer in various ways. But what is causing all of this? Surely not an inanimate, nice-looking doll…
So surprise surprise, it actually is the doll. Sorry for the ‘spoiler’, but Chucky (still voiced wonderfully by Brad Dourif, is at it again. Chucky is murdering the members of this house for reasons that are eventually revealed, but continues to have his eye on a body he could potentially transfer his soul into. What makes this film work is the approach to its story. Taking a step in a different direction from the last two entries, Bride of Chucky and Seed of Chucky, ‘Curse’ attempts to be an actual horror film again, with much less emphasis on comedy.
Having the film take place in this gothic horror setting is a nice touch for sure, as it is a new approach for the series, but also inherently scary. Letting the series of events take place almost entirely within one night was also a nice touch, as it takes away the prolonged sequences of people saying things such as, “What do you mean the doll did it.” By taking away this kind of doubt and letting the characters be in on what is happening fairly quickly, the film avoids repeating previous trappings of the series that have been done again and again. Of course, characters in this film do die based on not listening and bad timing, but it’s not as annoying as it could be.
Writer/director Don Mancini, the writer of all 6 Chucky films, seems to be happy to challenge himself with something different, especially given his return to the series, after a near 10 year absence. In addition to taking things in a different direction, he has made a satisfying horror film that features some inventive/darkly comedic kills. It is a film made on a budget, that is clear, but he pulls together what is needed to get the right vibe across, which includes the use of the Chucky doll as a legitimate threat.
Truth be told, I always tend to get a bit unsettled by Chucky. Something about his non-animated presence tends to freak me out much more so than him in action, so having the film downplay his full on movements, especially in the first half, left a nice sense of dread for me to sit with. That said, I continue to enjoy the voice-work from Brad Dourif as this evil little bastard. He hits all the right beats to make the premise sit on the right side of ridiculous.
As solid as the film is overall, as far as fans of the series and horror-lovers alike go, I only wish the ending did not feel like a mess. I mean, given how positive I am on the majority of the film, my rating got significantly lower, after getting through 3 or 4 different endings to this film, with only one or two feeling appropriate. With that said, I can only hope others that are huge fans of this series will really dig where Curse of Chucky leaves things (sequel potential? Of course, it’s a horror franchise). For those wanting to check in with the Chuckster, this is a film that delivers something new, while still featuring all the chaos that a little red-headed doll can provide.
If there are any ‘5’s to give out for this film, it definitely belongs in the video section. Curse of Chucky boasts a killer 1080p AVC-encoded video transfer that is pretty much perfect. Shot digitally, the movie looks fantastic in its setting and the Blu-ray really brings out all the details to match. The color palette is very dark and filled with cool blues, which works for the film and really brings out the reds, once the blood starts to be shed. The textures are fine as well, as are the other little details involved in making this film look as effectively chilling as possible, regardless of results on the audience. Chucky being a badass never looked so good.
The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track for Curse of Chucky is pretty solid as well. Given that the film moves from having big audio cues, based on the jump scares and larger horror-focused scenes to much quieter scenes, filled with dread, I was quite pleased with the results in terms of the audio quality. Dialogue felt a bit low in comparison, in some spots, but the levels were pretty spot-on for the most part. I certainly feel like I got a full audio experience, when all is said and done, which works well for a film like this. Really though, it’s hearing the Chucky laugh that gives me the most joy in all of this.
There is a pretty nice collection of extras on this disc as well, including 2 different cuts of the film, a commentary, and some deleted scenes. The featurettes feel fairly substantial as well, basically suggesting that everyone cared about making this movie work for the fans as best as possible.
Audio Commentary with Director Don Mancini, Puppeteer Tony Gardner, and actress Fiona Dourif – Definitely a good listen for fans of the film.
Deleted Scenes – Six additional scenes, taken out for pacing.
Gag Reel – Because all good scares need a good laugh…actually this was not among the better gag reels.
Playing with Dolls: The Making of Curse of Chucky – A nice look at making this new film, while keeping the previous chapters in mind.
Living Doll: Bringing Chucky to Life – A look at the creation of this version of Chucky, the doll.
Voodoo Doll: The Chucky Legacy – Chucky’s legendary status.
Storyboard Comparisons – Don Mancini introduces this look at how the film matched up to the intended design of certain scenes.
I specifically did not mention if this film was a remake or a reboot or whatever. This is mainly because it does not really matter, but I am happy that this felt more like an extension of what came before as opposed to a brand new take on the concept. Let’s face it, Brad Dourif is the one and only Chucky, so I’m glad he returned to continue to cause havoc. The Blu-ray for the film is pretty damn solid too, as it boasts a spectacular video transfer, some quality audio, and a decent collection of extras. If you’re in the mood for a little Chuck, Curse of Chucky is certainly a nice way to go.