Curse of Chucky Review
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As long-running horror film franchises continue churning out sequels, especially in the realm of direct-to-video, there’s been a tendency to devolve into self-parody. The Child’s Play series started out as straight horror with a dark comedic edge, but latter entries leaned harder on the satire. Now, 25 years after the killer doll’s first rampage, we have Curse of Chucky, an attempt to return the series to its roots. These changes should please series fans, but pacing problems and an unearned set of last-minute twists aren’t likely to win any new ones.

Our heroine this time out is Nica (Fiona Dourif), a paraplegic shut-in living with her mother. The morning after a mysterious package arrives with a vintage 1980s Good Guy doll, the mother is found dead of an apparently self-inflicted stabbing. Nica’s sister and her family—husband, daughter, and nanny—all arrive, along with the local priest (A. Martinez), to arrange the funeral, bicker incessantly, and die in increasingly gory ways.

In a lot of ways, Curse of Chucky repeats the approach of Child’s Play without having to bother with the exposition for how the world’s ugliest doll came to be possessed by the spirit of a serial killer and still immediately ended up a child’s favorite possession. The first half of the film plays through the conventional horror setup. We spend time getting to know and detest most of the characters (except Nica) while waiting for Chucky to do or say something horrible. It’s not the worst approach, but it’s tedious. Once the just-a-doll facade finally drops, the carnage kicks in and the film comes to life.

Wisely, the filmmakers’ desire to go back to what works also means relying on puppets, practical effects, and Brad Dourif’s well-established voice work as the foul-mouthed toy. When a Chucky film works, it’s largely thanks to the unsettling nature of the murderous puppet—something that wouldn’t be possible with CGI or a lesser voice talent filling in the personality. Dourif even gets some screen time himself during some flashback sequences, and it’s clear how much he still enjoys making these movies.

Unfortunately, that love for the past damages the end of the film, which features two epilogues—one before the credits, one after—which bring in major characters from the franchise’s history. Neither flows from the film as a whole, and neither is strong enough to propel the franchise forward. That said, if you do decide to give this a try, be sure to stick through the credits for that second cameo. It does play as a nice touch for those who’ve been following the series since the beginning.

If you have fond memories of the red-headed doll from hell, you’ll probably find enough in Curse of Chucky to warrant checking it out. If you’ve never gotten the appeal, Curse of Chucky likely won’t change your mind. Old toys can be like that. It’s neat to pick them up again, but you may wonder why you’ve still got them.

Blu-ray Review:
Coming along just in time for the 25th anniversary of the series, Curse of Chucky arrives in a pretty solid package. Along with a commentary, deleted scenes, and a gag reel, there’s a trio of featurettes offering some nice insight into the history and process of the series. The best of the bunch delves into the animatronics and performers that bring Chucky to demented life. Like the movie itself, it’s definitely a set that caters to fans of the series.

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