“Curse of Chucky” delights old fans, encourages new ones

Chloe' Robbins-Anderson

Last week ushered in a new era of Chucky movies with “Curse of Chucky,” mixing the newer, funnier movies with the suspense and real fear from the originals.

Wheelchair-bound  Nica (Fiona Dourif, daughter of Chucky’s voice actor, Brad Dourif) and her mother (Chantal Quesnelle) receive a box from an anonymous sender containing a Good Guy doll. That night, Nica is awakened by a scream and finds her mother dead at the bottom of the stairs. The family comes together, with Nica’s sister, Barb (Danielle Bisutti), brother-in-law, Ian (Brennan Elliott), and their daughter, Alice (Summer H. Howell). Director Don Mancini adds some human fodder for Chucky with Father Frank (A Martinez) and blond, bubbly Jill (Maitland McConnell), the live-in nanny who is obviously having an affair with Ian.

Alice takes an immediate liking to Chucky, who tells her they are “friends ‘til the end,” and Nica happily gives away the doll, completely unsuspecting of anything. Nica and Jill make dinner together in an attempt to show Barb that Nica doesn’t have to go to a care facility. Of course, Jill says that Chucky wants to help make dinner, and when they leave the room, Chucky’s hand is seen pouring rat poison into a chili bowl. There is a suspenseful scene with a lot of close-ups of mouths eating chili, while the audience tries to figure out who will go first.

One by one the rest of the family is picked off during the night in some fairly entertaining ways. Nica slowly figures out what is happening, but is too late to save most of them. In the end, she has a stand-off of sorts with Chucky, and learns of their family history together. Flashbacks show Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif) – the soul behind the Chucky doll – meeting the family and getting into trouble with them, leading directly into the beginning of the first “Child’s Play” movie. Everything ends on an almost-high note, with the doll as immortal as ever but leaving some survivors, however messed up their lives may become.

This is not the doll fans have come to love: this doll’s face and hair is immaculate, with creepier, more lifelike movement. The audience begins to wonderif this is a remake, starting over from the beginning, so smooth are his features. When a character notices some skin on Chucky’s lip and peels off the strips covering his stitched-up scars, people will be squirming in their seats.

Chucky’s movements are captured using both an animatronic doll and, when a face or close-ups of hands are not seen, a child in a Chucky suit. The child version is possibly more frightening, with its smooth movements and innocent figure, but it’s very obvious when it changes.

Mancini knows what he’s doing when it comes to horror. Although the last few Chucky movies, all written by Mancini, have been comedies, and the movies before even had comedic moments, he artfully directed the viewer when to cringe, when to jump and when to squirm in disgust. It takes some fine craftsmanship to coerce the most hardened horror lover into suspense and then surprisingly take it away.

Fans of horror who were disenfranchised with “Bride of Chucky” and “Seed of Chucky” will find their love rekindled in this sequel, with some great nods to fans from the beginning. From showing Brad Dourif in extremely young makeup, making the audience wonder if this is original or new footage, to a few surprise cameos from previous films, this movie was made with Chucky enthusiasts in mind.