13 Days of Halloween Day 5: Curse of Chucky (2013)

When I re-watched the direct-to-video film Curse of Chucky (2013), it was hard to believe that it had been 8 years since it was released.  I do not remember if I watched the R-rated or the unrated version back then, but this time I opted for the unrated version.  For fans of the franchise, that is the only version to watch.  It was a little gorier than the R-rated version, but the main payoff is the post-credits scene.  If you have not watched it yet, stop reading, watch it, and then come back to me.  Spoilers abound!

Glad you are back!  This film marks a return to the horror genre minus the comedy of the last two films.  As always, Chucky (Brad Dourif) spouts off some good quips, but it is not a satire like the previous two installments of the franchise. 

This film revolves around Nica (Fiona Dourif…yup Brad Dourif’s daughter!)  a wheelchair bound woman living in a large Gothic home with her artist and mentally troubled mother, Sarah (Chantal Quesnelle).  Her mother receives a Good Guys doll mysteriously and anonymously.  The same night, Sarah dies.  Nica’s sister, Barb (Danielle Bisutti) comes to mourn her mother along with her husband Ian (Brennan Elliott), their au pair Jill (Maitland McConnell), their daughter Alice (Summer H. Howell), and Father Frank (A Martinez).

Barb reveals that she and Ian’s marriage is strained, and they are also struggling financially.  I am not sure why they would have an au pair if they are strapped for cash and only have one child, but we soon learn that Jill and Barb are having a secret affair, even though Barb is constantly accusing Ian of lusting after Jill.  Barb tries to convince Nica to sell the home and move into an assisted living facility.  Even though the doll creeped her out, Nica gives the Good Guys doll to Alice.  Of course, by this time he has introduced himself with his standard greeting, “Hi! I’m Chucky.”

Mancini does a great job of building tension in the beginning of this film.  Early on, Chucky has done his usual move when you are not looking shtick.  He ups the ante when he sprinkles rat poison in one of the bowls of homemade chili Nica and Alice have prepared for everyone.  This dinner scene is one of the best examples I have seen in building excitement and tension in cinema.  Ian describes the Good Guys dolls buying craze of the 1980s and compares it to the Cabbage Patch doll and Smurf fads of the decade.  Father Frank adds that he remembered something about the dolls and the news. The chili bowls seem to have no bottom as the group gorges on their dinner.  Mancini toys with the audience as Alice says the food tastes weird and Barb worries it contains meet.  We anticipate a choking death until Father Frank, sweating and visually uncomfortable, finally excuses himself.  This sets the tone of the film and gets our blood pumping for the rest of Chucky’s tricks.

Half of the film is Chucky pitting the family against each other, and the other half is his outright stalking and killing them.  The movie is paced perfectly.  Mancini and Chucky take their time as the film unfolds. One of the best parts is when it is revealed that the Chucky doll is the actual Chucky from the other films, but his stitches and gashes have been covered up to make him look new.

This is not the only revelation of the film.  We find out that Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif) had met a pregnant Sarah, her husband, and Barb at some type of picnic.  Her husband dies shortly after and Ray abducts Sarah.  She manages to call the police which leads to chase between Ray and Detective Norris (Chris Sarandon) in Child’s Play (1988) which ultimately leads to Ray becoming Chucky.

We do not know if Ray moves in on and dates a grieving Sarah or if he just is obsessed with her and kidnaps her with plans of kidnapping Barb.  What we do see is that he is responsible for Nica’s condition which is caused when he stabs Barb and hits the womb.  In a weird Batman/Joker way from Batman (1989), Ray created Nica and Sarah created Chucky.

Filmmakers did a great job blending the old footage from Child’s Play (1988) into this movie as a flashback.  My main complaint is the new footage shot of Sarah meeting Ray.  It is wonderful that Brad Dourif played the character in the flashbacks, but the makeup and effects used to make him appear younger were so rough, not only did it distract from the scene, but it made it hard to tell that it was Dourif.  The new footage of him looking younger does not match the actual footage of him from the 1980s.  I fear this was a budget issue and not a technology issue.  It may have been better if a stand-in were used and Dourif’s dialogue synced.  It would at least be less distracting.  This is the only blemish I can find in an otherwise wonderful film.

Of course, this new timeline of Ray leaving Sarah and being chased by police to the toy store omits his partner, Eddie Caputo who is seen speeding off in a car in Child’s Play (1988) during the chase.  I am not sure how Mancini could have worked Caputo in, but this lack of continuity is sloppy writing.  Sure a lot of time has passed for Mancini, but he could have just watched the old film and taken notes. Sheesh. 

Furthermore, what does this new timeline mean for Tiffany?  In Bride of Chucky (1998), Tiffany thinks a diamond ring Ray stole was actually an engagement ring.  She said that she waited for him to come back, but was gunned down and never returned.  Did Tiffany know about his obsession with Sarah and was he actually a boyfriend to either of them?  Since neither Tiffany nor Ray can be considered reliable as they recall events, this really is not a continuity issue like Caputo was because we saw Caputo speeding away.  Some fans may argue that Bride of Chucky (1998) and Seed of Chucky (2004) are not canonical, but, Chucky himself lists the families’ he has ruined to Nica and includes the Kincaid’s and the Tilly’s.

This would not be the same film if it took place in any other house.  The house is as much a supporting character as the other members of Nica’s family are.  It has a haunted house feel and allows for all of these nooks and crannies for Chucky to hide in. The house is beautiful, but the roof leaks and you can tell it is starting to fall into disrepair.  When I watched the movie this second time, the home reminded me of the house in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962).  Not only are the houses in the films similar, but both deal with feuding sisters one of whom wants to sell the house and the other does not. 

Once you realize that Nica has probably been in a wheelchair her entire life, it also makes you question why she and her mother chose a home with so many stairs.  It does feature an elevator, but if the electricity goes out like it does in this film, Nica is stranded.  Nica and her mother seem to struggle financially and an elevator would require maintenance and inspections.  The elevator works as a throwback to a similar one in the original film.  It also works almost as a cage at times for Nica.  She traps herself in it to try to escape Chucky.  It reminds us physically of how vulnerable Nica is and makes the fact that she is battling a 3 foot doll and struggling much more realistic than others who Chucky has overpowered over the years.

One of Chucky’s MOs is that he befriends a child.  Alice is given Chucky by his aunt and she automatically loves him.  Alice is the second most annoying child in this entire franchise!  Tyler (Jeremy Sylvers) from Child’s Play 3 (1991) is still strong is first place even though Alice warns Chucky to stop swearing just like Tyler did.  Ugh!   She was needy, annoying, and, like all children in horror movies, did not follow any directions given to her.  Alice at least mark a milestone for Chucky.  This was the first time he befriended and tried to possess a little girl instead of a little boy.  This is also one of the few times he actually succeeded in transferring his soul to a different body.

Last but not least, we HAVE to discuss the post credits scene! Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) returns to the Chucky franchise in the post credits scene.  This marks the first time that we have seen Andy Barclay since Child’s Play 3 (1991) and the first time Alex Vincent has been in the role since Child’s Play 2 (1990).  Andy receives the package that was shipped by Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly) and is on the telephone with his mother.  He asks her about Mike, presumably Detective Norris.  This indicates that not only has Karen been cleared of any charges of the murders, but we can also assume she is not in a mental facility and that she and Andy have a decent relationship.  In Andy’s apartment, we see a photograph of him and his mother (Catherine Hicks) from the first movie and a picture of Kyle (Christine Elise).  Chucky believes he is sneaking up on Andy, but Andy emerges with a gun and says, “Play with this!”  It may have taken 25 years, but the Barclay’s have some sort of life, even if Andy is waiting for Andy to return and attack any at any moment.  This also speaks to how obsessive and crazy Chucky is because he will just not leave Andy alone.  Ever. Luckily, the movie was great, but even if it had not have been, watching it would have been worth the post credits scene.

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