Thursday, September 11, 2014

Curse of Chucky (2013)

No one is more shocked than me about Nilbog Milk becoming a Child's Play discussion blog.  I was so hyped about the whole Chucky revamp concept that I waited nearly a year to get around to seeing it.  I just don't like the concept of a killer doll, the attempt at making a serious killer doll movie even less so.  I hadn't even planned to talk about Curse of Chucky if it was awful (as I feared).  But, as you can infer by this post's existence, I ate my cynical words.  This is surprisingly pretty good.


I've ignored or forgotten every Child's Play entry since the first one, so, sorry, you won't be getting a grad-level lecture in Chucky today.  I vaguely remember Bride and Seed being pretty goofy and fun and, if that's true, Curse represents a major departure from that kind of tone.  This is indeed very serious and grim, but what's even better is that original CP director Don Mancini has opted to turn this killer doll movie into a Haunting tribute.  This is exquisitely filmed in a cavernous, shadowy old house, with jittery elevators and long ominous stairways.  Even the score is weighty in a thick Hellraiser kind of way.  Basically, everything shrieks seriousness and it's all so carefully rendered that it never comes off as pompous or overdone.


Even the plotting and characterization are a step above.  Nica is wheelchair-bound and living in an old house with her troubled mom.  Shortly after a Goodguy doll arrives, we're minus one mom and Nica's sister Barb and her family/entourage show up for the funeral.  From a cursory reading, this is pretty standard stuff, but the Barb-Nica interactions and Barb-husband backstory keep this film interesting even when the killer doll is not killing.  Which happens a lot!


Mancini wisely keeps Chucky inert for most of the first half, racheting up the tension for the inevitable stabbing and slashing.  The camerawork and solid acting keep viewers piqued while we're waiting for killer doll kills.


And, when they happen, they're pretty great.  Without spoiling shit, one subplot is particular has a real mean streak and, otherwise, the kills are basically in line with what a little person could reasonably do.  Curse isn't awash in gore and builds well to the blood that is spilled.  Plus I really appreciated no few Leprechaun-style one-liners.  This film does not forget that Charles Lee Ray is a right bastard and it doesn't let you forget it, either.


I thought the cast was impressive all the way around.  Of special note is Fiona Dourif as Nica.  Dourif doesn't slack on her performance, either physically or in terms of conveying Nica as a well-rounded character.  As with a lot of things in Curse, I'm amazed that someone would put this much effort into a killer doll movie.  But I'm glad they did.


One other little thing I LOVED—the Repo Man-style INTERNET SEARCH page that Nica uses to learn more about Chucky.  You would think that the Internet would have tons of pages that reference "Chucky" and that Nica wouldn't find anything relevant right away, but she does!  Good work!


Lest all involved parties think they're beyond reproach, I should say that Curse does have its failings.  The whole concept of Chucky means that you're starting from a handicap and, while this is about as good a Chucky movie as one could expect, it's still a Chucky movie.  It's hard to buy into the concept.  I liked the mostly-Chuckyless first half a lot more than the Chuckyful second, too.  All that character stuff that I adored pretty much disappears and we get a lot of slasher stuff in its place.  But, minor gripes aside, this is a really solid piece of work.  Even people who hate this series will probably want to give this a shot.  It's a flawed concept that is elevated by pure style and effort.


***1/4

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