Released: 2013 Country: USA Language: English Directed by: Don Mancini Written by: Don Mancini Starring:Fiona Dourif, Danielle Bisutti, Brad Dourif
MPAA rating: R
Runtime: 97 minutes
Nica (Fiona Dourif) has been a Paraplegic since the day she was born. Confined to a wheelchair, she lives with her troubled mother in a cavernous old mansion. One day, a large, brown paper package (NOT tied up with string – a big red flag right off the bat) is delivered to their front door. The pair aren’t expecting a delivery, but who doesn’t like surprises? Naturally, they bust it open, only to find a big ol’ Good Guys doll. Oddly, the doll looks brand new. Can this be THE doll we’ve all come to know and [mostly] love? After a certain tragedy befalls the household, Nica’s sister, Barb (Danielle Bisutti), her husband, Ian (Brennan Elliot), their daughter, Alice (Summer Howell), their nanny, Jill (Maitland McConnell), and, for some reason, a priest named Father Frank (A. Martinez) all show up to sort out the mess. What takes place from that point on should be pretty obvious to fans of these films... Chucky tries to kill everyone. As poorly realized as the narrative arc is, the plot does offer some halfway-interesting background on Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif), which also serves as a sort of ‘reveal’ as to why the doll ended up at Nica’s house in the first place.
The Child’s Play series has never been known for in-depth storytelling, and Curse of Chucky is no exception. But, what the first two films did for creativity in the tired slasher genre, Curse of Chucky only squanders utterly. Don Mancini returns, this time as both screenwriter AND director, to try and drag the franchise from the seemingly terminal campiness it has fallen into (a condition for which he must take a sizable portion of responsibility). Though perhaps Mancini was the wrong choice for shot-caller... His lack of hands-on experience may be the cause of the film’s overall failure, as most of CoC looks hackneyed and clumsy (keep in mind that his ONLY other directorial credit is Seed of Chucky). Mancini can’t maintain a trajectory and is constantly stalling the film. Not only does he mistake dawdling for suspense, but his script is first-draft rough and loaded with inconsistencies. Along with some truly dopey, thrill-killing dialog, and Scooby-Doo-style monologuing, this flick serves mainly to elicit wincing groans and can ultimately be described as a horror flick with an identity crisis. Like a poorly-made children’s toy, each of Curse of Chucky’s ugly seams shows.
While the performances throughout CoC are quite solid, there was just nothing to work with. Silly sub-plots and half-baked scripting make it difficult for these actors to really shine or create anything more than by-the-book, slasher film fodder. Fiona Dourif’s paraplegic Nica was an interesting angle to take with a protagonist, but she never really came into her own as a fully-realized heroine. We spent most of our time alternating between feeling sorry for her and questioning the need for her affliction as a plot device. Danielle Bisutti’s Barb is sufficiently irksome and self-centered, immediately establishing herself as the character whose demise you long for. Except for Brad Dourif, (whose performance as the iconic voice of Chucky is disappointingly middle-of-the-road and under-utilized) the rest of the cast members are essentially incidental and interchangeable.
The film’s one truly notable success is Chucky’s redesign. The fresh-faced new look for the iconic Good Guys doll from hell is very well done, and also stands out as being the one aspect of the film that is actually frightening. Fans of the franchise will appreciate the attention that was put into making Chucky look scary again. We came away from this plodding bore knowing that at least one spark would keep the Child’s Play fire burning: that Chucky’s dark, sinister eeriness that made the first films so creepy is alive, well, and, we would argue, better than ever. Now we just need an impassioned director who can breathe some new life into this old doll.