The Child’s Play series has been around since the late eighties but hasn’t put out a great deal of films. After the quickly produced original three, only two more were released in the subsequent two decades, 1998’s Bride of Chucky and 2004’s Seed of Chucky. The series had been going in an increasingly comical direction and by the fifth film was an all-out campy, meta-comedy with barely any traces of horror. It went on a long hiatus following that and appeared to be destined for the inevitable, eventual remake treatment.
However, rather than remake the original, series creator Don Mancini, who’s written every film in the franchise (and no other films since he came up with it), has decided to make another sequel, but interest in the film seemed so low that it’s a straight-to DVD/VOD movie, a first for the series, and certainly not a good sign.
However, Curse of Chucky is way better than anyone would have reasonably expected, and is comfortably superior to all its predecessors.
One of the key decisions here was to take the series back to basics, this has meant disposing of all the ludicrous comedic elements of the last two films, and instead being a tight, focused horror movie.
The story takes place several years after the previous film, and centres on Nica, a paraplegic girl living in a big house with her mother. A Chucky doll arrives in the mail one day and her mother soon winds up dead, prompting several relatives and acquaintances to come to the house and help her. Interestingly, Nica is played by Fiona Dourif, real life daughter of long-time Chucky voice actor Brad Dourif, but is not playing an on-screen relative.
Nearly all of the film takes place within the confines of the house, making it feel essentially like a tense, creepy haunted house film, and effectively so. We know who’s targeting the occupants, but for the most past, Chucky is used sparingly, with us only catching glimpses of him arranging the amusingly gruesome deaths.
While a lot of the scares are effective, Curse hasn’t lost all of the humour, after all you can’t really be expected to take a killer doll that seriously, and it gets the laughs in when it wants to.
Brad Dourif reprises his title role in both voice form and newly-filmed flashbacks that not only expand the character but function to bring beginners to the series up to speed. Curse of Chucky is a tonal reinvention but doesn’t forget the events of the past films, managing to successfully serve as a sequel to and reboot of the Child’s Play series, but is still a surprisingly enjoyable little horror film in its own right.