Cast: Fiona Dourif, Danielle Bisutti, Brennan Elliott, Summer H. Howell, Maitland McConnell
Running time: 97mins
The lowdown: Almost a decade after the disappointing Seed of Chucky, the teeny titian terror returns, still voiced by Brad Dourif and the film’s USP being he’s terrifying his real life daughter, Fiona Dourif. Series creator Don Mancini has more luck behind the camera than he did directing Seed of Chucky, going back to basics with a horror-comedy that does not forget the horror. Gory, funny and bizarrely kind of sweet, this C-word still has the power to surprise.
The full verdict: Never one of horror’s scarier icons, Chucky nonetheless has infected pop culture, his DNA most recently evident in the comic smash Ted.
Curse of Chucky, heading straight to DVD, will never scare up that movie’s megabucks. But, it is a nicer surprise than expected seeing the killer doll back on the screen in a good old-fashioned stalk n’ slash chiller.
Surprising also is that twenty years have passed since the Child’s Play 3 furore, when the British press ludicrously linked that movie to the James Bulger killing and called for its ban.
It is unlikely that Chucky will ever cause that controversy again, but Curse of Chucky, with its witty script, game cast and energetic direction should find pleasing fans as easy as taking candy from a baby.
Working with a modest $8m budget, Manicini largely restricts the action to one large old house over a single stormy night of terror.
Chucky’s target is the wheelchair bound Nica (Dourif), her sister Barb (Bisutti), Barb’s husband (Elliott) their cute moppet Alice, (Howell), who takes a shine to the murderous doll, and the jailbait nanny (McConnell) for whom Chucky has quite the eye out.
A dinner party early on with one plate laced with rat poison provides the template for the movie; tongue-in-cheek suspense, broad humour and a splatter punchline.
Mancini shoots like Hitchcock at his most playful, employing dizzying camera angles, shock edits, and real bite to the grisly deaths.
And Nica’s clearly living in a rundown house based on Norman Bates’ abode.
Kudos also for keeping Chucky animatronic, resisting the urge to smooth out his movements with CGI.
A sufficiently engrossing story exists upon which to drape the mayhem, with a past mystery allowing Brad Dourif some actual screen time as well as providing Chucky with profane wisecracks.
Nod and wink contrivances are slipped in to prevent characters acting too intelligently, and the cast throw themselves into the spirit of the proceedings, Dourif Jr making a winning lead channeling something of Jessica Harper circa Suspiria.
A welcome 11th hour cameo puts a smile on the face, while the closing moments set the stage for a long-mooted series reboot.
And stay for the post-credit sting that ends the best Chucky film after Bride of… on a real bang.