This review covers the Blu-ray/DVD combo set.
Chucky the killer doll is back for another round of mayhem – this time, setting his sights on a young woman (Fiona Dourif) and her family in their secluded country home.
Written and directed by Don Mancini
I’ve always felt Chucky never got his due like other horror icons. Sure, he’s had a long film series, mostly successful, but he never gets mentioned in the upper pantheon of horror villains like Jason, Michael Myers, or Freddy Krueger. I will say this: thanks to the performance of Brad Dourif, no one delivers a line like Chucky, Krueger included.
Curse of Chucky, the latest installment in the series, isn’t classic enough to help his second-tier icon status, but for his fans, it is a satisfying fix for those who have waited nearly a decade for a new movie. Curse returns everyone’s favorite killer doll to his hardcore horror roots, and makes for one of the best horror movies this year.
Moody and atmospheric, Curse of Chucky has a fair share of scares and gore, but unlike the dark comedic tone the more recent films took, this installment plays like a classic horror film. Fans of the early Child’s Play films will love this new movie, which unfolds the thrills and scares slowly, with a nice payoff.
The film revolves around Nica (Fiona Dourif), a paraplegic who lives in a secluded country home with her mother. When a mysterious package arrives, with a “Good Guy” Chucky doll inside, you know things will go south quickly. As bodies start to pile up, Nica realizes the doll may play a part in the mystery, revealing a secret no one was supposed to discover.
I won’t go too deeply into the plot, as there are some nice turns that I do not want to give away. Child’s Play fans, however, will love the fact that the film dovetails nicely with the other films. Just about every other film in the series is referenced somehow, creating a story arc that you won’t see coming.
Much of the imagery and pacing will remind you both of Hitchcock and even some classic Hammer horror. It isn’t quite THAT good, but at least it aspires to be better than most generic slashers. There aren’t any cheap scares here (ok, maybe just a couple), as director Mancini lets the tension build before the payoff, and it is well worth it.
The Blu-ray includes an R-rated version, as well as an unrated version, which includes about two more minutes of gore. It doesn’t make a huge difference in the quality of the film overall, unless you’re just into the sadistic gore thing.
Kudos to the special effects department, who made the Chucky doll look incredibly creepy in some scenes. It isn’t an easy thing to have an animatronic puppet show enough emotion to scare you, but they pull it off here.
For a straight-to-video release, Curse of Chucky is surprisingly good. I’m surprised Universal didn’t choose to release this theatrically for Halloween, as fans of 1980s and classic horror would have flocked to it. Curse of Chucky is the best Chucky movie in a long, long, time.
VIDEO AND AUDIO
The high definition video transfer is excellent, with nice detail. Much of the film takes place at night, which usually exposes poor-quality video transfers, but not so here. Blacks are inky, and there is good contrast between all the darker shades, with nice subtle variances. The audio is a solid 5.1 DTS-HD soundtrack, with excellent channel separation and good clarity.
Universal treats Chucky fans right by packing the blu-ray with a host of extras that covers all the films in the series. An audio commentary with director Don Mancini, Fiona Dourif, and Chucky puppeteer Tony Gardner is both interesting and informative, something most commentaries fail to accomplish.
Six deleted scenes are included, and while a few are very minor snippets, a few are actually worth noting. Because they give away major plot points, however, I won’t detail them here. A gag reel is short but entertaining.
A “making of” featurette called “Playing with Dolls” reflects on the Chucky series and how the new film is a return to its horror roots. This 15-minute featurette includes interviews with the entire cast, and provides a thorough look behind the scenes. “Living Doll: Bringing Chucky to Life” is a nice look at how the special effects department created Chucky, from the happy, “clean” version to the torn-up, demonic version seen at looks the end of the film. From casting the molds, to crafting animatronics, to the costumes used by the “little person” who performed many of the walking stunts, you get a full look at the process.
“Voodoo Doll: The Chucky Legacy” includes extended interviews with Brad Dourif and Jennifer Tilly, among others, who reflect on all the Chucky movies in the series. Several actors recount their favorite “kills,” which is a nice touch. Storyboard comparisons narrated by Don Mancini shows the evolution of several scenes, showing the storyboards and the final scene side-by-side. An Ultraviolet digital copy is also included.
THE BOTTOM LINE: BUY IT OR NETFLIX IT?
Ratings (1-10 scale)
Overall score: 7.5
Curse of Chucky is a nice throwback to the Chucky of old, and the connection to the past films is a nice touch. It’s entertaining, and Chucky is as menacing as ever. Chucky fans will be satisfied, and it is worth a watch for any horror fan.
Release date: October 8, 2013
Rating: Unrated (R-rated version included)
Running time: 95 minutes (R-rated version); 97 minutes (unrated version)
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: Bluray: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish 5.1 DTS Digital Surround, French 5.1 Dolby Digital. DVD: English, French, and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, French, and Spanish
Special features: Six deleted scenes, gag reel, “Playing with Dolls: The Making of Curse of Chucky” featurette, “Living Doll: Bringing Chucky to Life” featurette, “Voodoo Doll: The Chucky Legacy” featurette, Storyboard comparisons, digital copy.
Audio commentary: Participants include Don Mancini, Fiona Dourif, and Tony Gardner.