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Curse of Chucky (2013)

Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 10/8/2013

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2
Video:
Audio: 1/2
Extras:

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 10/4/2013

When horror movies began nearly 100 years ago, the goal was the same as that of any genre of film -- for audiences to see the movies and embrace the new technology. I don't think anyone set out to create a group of "horror heroes". But, in fact, that did happen and it happened quite early on with Universal's Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolf Man, Mummy, and The Creature from the Black Lagoon. These became instantly recognizable characters who appeared in many movies. Decades later, this group would be usurped by the likes of Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, and Freddy Kreuger. Yes, it seems that every generation has a set of horror characters which come into vogue. Who would have guessed that a doll would ascend to these heights? Yet, following the release of 1988's Child's Play, Chucky became part of pop culture and went on to appear in four sequels. However, Chucky's star has certainly dimmed, as he hasn't appeared in a movie since 2004. Can the new Curse of Chucky put him back on the horror hit list?

Curse of Chucky introduces us to Nica (Fiona Dourif), a wheelchair-bound young woman who lives with her mother (Chantal Quesnelle) in a dilapidated mansion. When tragedy strikes, Nica is visited by her sister, Barb (Danielle Bisutti), her brother-in-law, Ian (Brennan Elliot), her niece, Alice (Summer Howell), and Aliceís nanny, Jill (Maitland McConnell). Alice is intrigued by a large doll which was mysteriously shipped to the house just a few days before, and Nica is more than happy to let the little girl play with the red-headed doll in overalls. As Nica and Barb discuss the future of the house and Barbís familyís financial situation, Alice plays with the doll. However, Chucky soon begins to whisper sinister thins to Alice, and as the adults get ready for bed, the body count begins.

For a piece of plastic, Chucky certainly has an interesting cinematic legacy which actually mirrors some other horror icons. While Dracula and Frankenstein had started their on-screen careers as titans of terror, but 1948 they were appearing in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. In 1984's A Nightmare on Elm Street, Freddy was a truly frightening character. Just a few years later, he was telling jokes in the Elm Street sequels. While Child's Play did present Chucky as a doll with a foul mouth, that movie was mostly played for scares. But, Bride of Chucky and Seed of Chucky forewent that approach and went straight to black comedy for the most part. I mean, what's funnier than a doll having a baby?

With Curse of Chucky, Writer/Director Don Mancini states that he wanted to return to Chucky's root and focus more on the horror. He succeeds in this to an extent, but by moving the series backwards, he does little to move it forwards. This is a relatively low-budget affair which seems downright cheap at times. The entire film takes place in the house, save a for a few scenes, but Mancini doesn't really take advantage of the space. We simply get the feeling that the budget dictated a minimal number of sets. The story does expand somewhat towards the end, but for the most part, it's very straight-forward and the biggest twist has to with the human characters and has nothing to do with Chucky. (And that big twist really caught me off-guard.) When the plot is really examined, one sees that it doesn't make much sense and that it really makes some leaps in order to get the story going.

However, the biggest loss here has to do with what should be the focus of the film -- Chucky. The beauty of Child's Play was that even though we, the audience, knew that we were there for a killer doll movie, the characters didn't, and there was actually a murder-mystery angle to the film. Mancini could have gone back to something like that here. When the first body was discovered, Alice could have blamed it on Chucky, with no one believing her until they saw it for themselves. Instead, we get an odd mixture of scenes where Chucky talks to Alice, but she doesn't find this odd, Chucky moving where only we can see it, and Chucky coming fully to life. None of it flows or gels very well and this feels like a series of "greatest hits" scenes as opposed to a cohesive movie. The finale, which explains how Chucky got to the house in the first place, has some potential, and it certainly sets up a sequel, but it comes very abruptly and it never fully explained.

I am one of those people who liked Child's Play, but moved away from Chucky as the movies got more and more silly. I was interested in Chucky making a comeback, but this movie is a disappointment. For the most part, it's boring, as the characters bicker while Chucky may or may not be doing something in the background. Everyone here is a cliche and the angle of having Nica in a wheelchair feels like a ploy more than an actual plot point. The worst part is that the movie in never remotely creepy or scary. Even though we know going in what is going to happen, the movie could have at least tried for scares, but it doesn't. Chucky deserves better than this and this is one toy which is going back. Oh and someone call Goblin and tell them about the end titles theme music.

Curse of Chucky voids its warranty on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look fine, most notably the reds, but the image is somewhat dark at times. The level of detail is very good here, as I could see the pores in the actor's faces during close-ups. The depth is good as well, which is important in the shots where things are moving in the background. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.9 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The mix makes good use of stereo and surround sound effects, giving us a sense that things are moving about in the house. Some of these effects are very detailed and the stereo separation is good. The action during the finale brings in the subwoofer, whose bass tones add to overall effect of the movie.

The Curse of Chucky Blu-ray Disc contains a surprising number of extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY Writer/Director Don Mancini, Puppeteer Tony Gardner, and Fiona Dourif. "Playing with Dolls: The Making of Curse of Chucky" (16 minutes) takes us on-set to hear comments from Mancini and the cast. The cast describes their characters and then goes on-and-on praising one-another. Once all of this glad-handing is done, we get a look at the special effects makeup and the gore effects. "Living Doll: Bringing Chucky to Life" (9 minutes) takes a closer look at the puppetry and mechanical effects involved in making Chucky "act". We see how visual effects were used in this. "Voodoo Doll: The Chucky Legacy" (7 minutes) is simply a series of clips from the franchise (save for Child's Play, as Universal doesn't have the rights to that one), accompanied by comments from Mancini and the cast of Curse of Chucky. Mancini does share some insight into what went into the character and the various sequels. The Disc contains six DELETED SCENES which run about 6 minutes. Most of these are simply extended scenes, and there aren't any new ideas here. The extras are rounded out by a 90-second GAG REEL and Storyboard-to-film comparisons for four scenes (25 minutes).

Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2013.