Friday, December 6, 2013

Film Review: Curse of Chucky

Copyright: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
However you look at it, Curse of Chucky smells like the eighties. At its core, this movie is a classic horror, combined with a dry black humor.

It starts with a death. An elderly, emotionally disturbed woman is found dead by her daughter Nica. She is bound to a wheelchair, so the rest of her family soon arrives to help her with the awful experience.

These include her commanding older sister Barb, her detached husband, their small daughter Alice and her extremely sexy nanny Jill. In minutes, Alice finds a mysterious doll that was brought to their house and starts to play with it. In a matter of hours, mayhem sets in.

The first real horror scene of the movie involves Chucky pouring rat poison in one dinner plate. The family plus Father Frank, the local priest, begins their dinner, and the audience doesn’t know who got the poison. In this simple setup, the writer/director Don Mancini shows us a very plain, yet great miniature horror framework. While the camera pans around the table, diner becomes something more similar to a game of Russian roulette, and we can’t wonder who will be the first one to die. In the same manner, we already know that Jill will show some flesh and get into some kind of sexual encounter (although the film cleverly flips the idea who her lover is). Jill is played by the Maitland McConnell who has that all-American beauty and good looks, and her nudity (nothing spectacular, but still nice), when it comes, doesn’t seem as a desperate attempt to stir-up interest in a bored audience, but is instead just another motion from an older horror movie rule book.

Mancini plays steadily by this rulebook and it pay off as Chucky begins to escalate his involvement with the family. By placing Nica in a wheelchair, and thus giving his main character a big disadvantage, Mancini did wonders for the second part of the film, where it becomes obvious to everyone still alive that something horrible is going on. Nica must fight Chucky and his sadistic games, while at the same time she has to overcome things like stairs and other physical obstacles. I much appreciated this kind of double dynamic of Nica’s nightmare, and beside Mancini, Fiona Dourif who plays Nica has to be credited for her role. In the beginning of the movie, we see Nica as someone who gets a lot of pity and sad looks, but not much more. In the end, she evolves into a fighter determined to stay alive.

All these years after the first film of the series, Chucky is still a potent phenomenon. In spite of his cute little jean overalls, ginger hair and plastic freckles, this recognizable figure has shown that he still is worthy of a place in the horror Parthenon, right next to the much scarier looking characters like Freddy Kruger and Jason.