Curse of Chucky (2013)

Because I’ve been very, very lazy lately and writing these things in chronological order does not sound very sensible to me, I’ve still got plenty of movies left from last year that need to be covered and there’s already new stuff piling atop of that, so let’s just get to it, shall we?

It’s not that often that you get to say this about horror flicks with so many unnecessary sequels, but damn, what a remarkable return to form! For once the Internet was not lying when it claimed that this was actually well worthy watching. I’m frankly shocked how genuinely good this turned out to be. Around the time of Seed of Chucky came out you just kinda lost any hope (disclaimer: this is all pure hearsay and conjecture, based solely on reading the plot synopsis on Wikipedia) that it will get good again. I mean let’s be honest here. Who in their right mind sees Chucky VI on the shelf and thinks to himself/herself: “Well hey, they made another one? Awesome!” without a hint of irony? It’s like a rule that the more a horror movie franchise has sequels, the worse they progressively get. I’m pretty sure that’s the only way to explain Jason X. I think I tapped out of that one before the opening credits were even done. But anyway. All that in mind, I just can’t emphasize enough how pleasant experience it was to watch a Chucky sequel that not only  felt like a genuinely well done horror movie, but also managed to make the killer doll gimmick feel slightly reinvigorated and creepy again.

The main reason why this turned out to be so good is that it’s very much back to the basics. Working with a very small budget of five million dollars, it really shows that this is a labor of love, rather than a cynical, one final attempt to milk one last nickle and some change from the franchise that is all but dead and buried. They’ve really put some thought into what would they need in order to do Chucky right again and find a way to drag the franchise back to its creepy roots. The big idea of using a wheelchair bound girl as the protagonist heroine is actually a very cunning and simple way to make Chucky feel threatening again, even though he’s facing against an adult person. Now add to the mix that she lives in the middle of nowhere, in an old, decrepit looking house where the are corridors are narrow and not very suited for wheelchair use, and the only way the heroine can move between the floors is an ancient looking elevator, you’ve got the perfect hunting ground set up for a serial killer doll to stalk his prey in. Forgive me the pun, but she simply has no place to run.

It’s not reinventing the wheel or anything, but the script is solid enough to manage for the most part to make everything feel fresh and fun again, rather than merely recycling old hits in hope of pleasing the seven or so people who still care about the franchise. The big twist as to why Chucky has chosen the heroine, Nica, as his newest victim is a bit of a stretch, but I’m willing to give that a pass because it’s just there to give an excuse why he would just appear out of the blue on her doorstep as a doll and start tormenting her the same way he originally terrorized little Andy.

While I do praise the movie a lot, it’s not entirely perfect. There’s one glaring flaw and that is that all the kills in the movie end up being very disappointing, one way or another. It’s most likely an unfortunate consequence of the budget constraints. You’d think at least one of them would be at least half decent, since Chucky does slaughter basically the entire family by the time you reach the end, but nah, they all end up pretty underwhelming, largely because they can’t afford to do very flashy effects, so they kept having to go with the cheapest and easiest way to shoot  each victim getting killed. I do give them props for creativity, because I honestly did not see few of them happening the way they did, but that doesn’t change the fact that the death scenes weren’t as exciting as you might have liked.

On the positive side, they actually manage to make the slow build  up to each death surprisingly intense and nerve-racking, which goes a long way redeeming the movie after the repeated disappointments stemming from the kills. My personal favorite build up sequence is where Chucky simply poisons the food that’s about to be served and you’re left frantically wonder who it is in the dinner table that is going to suddenly drop dead. You know it won’t be Nica because she’s the lead character, but that still leaves the slightly bitchy sister, the sister hubby, Nica’s niece, the sexy au pair who’s clearly having an affair with her employer, plus the priest.  Unfortunately you ultimately get blue balls because the actual death doesn’t happen on screen. The body reveal is pretty gruesome, but that’s like getting an award just for participating in an event, rather than winning the big first place trophy. Like I said, pretty underwhelming after a great build up.

The ending was also pretty decent. With Chucky, it’s always a bit tricky how you’re going to explain away all the murders to the authorities when the real culprit is a doll, that via voodoo magic, is possessed by the spirit of a serial killer. And I kinda love the resolution and the small twist they ended up going with: when the cops arrive, everybody just thinks Nica has gone crazy and murdered her family, so she ends up being sent to the insane asylum, which ironically is the one place where she should be most safe from Chucky as he can’t really get to her when she’s locked up in a maximum security mental facility for the criminally insane. It’s a great way to close the story.

If the talk about the next installment in the franchise is true and it’s a direct sequel to this one, it ought to make for great evening if they are able to recreate the magic of this come back. I can’t believe that I’m actually this excited about a seventh Chucky movie.

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