Fright Fest 2017 Review #1 – Curse of Chucky (2013)

Finally, a horror movie that delivers.

Subgenre:  Evil Doll

Summary:  After the tragic death of their mother, two sisters begin to experience strange occurrences in their childhood home.

Review:  I’ve been aware of this movie since its release in 2013, but after the disappointing Seed of Chucky I had to put it off for a while.  But as a fan of the franchise, I knew I’d get around to it eventually, and this seemed like the perfect time.

We start off with prologue that introduces us to Nica, a young wheelchair-bound woman who lives at home with her mentally ill mother.  Soon after receiving an anonymous package containing a smiling Good Guy doll, Nica’s mother dies in what appears to be a suicide.

A few days later, Nica’s sister Barb and her family arrive along with the local priest to provide emotional support and not-so-subtly ask her to agree to sell the house.  From this point on, the movie becomes a borderline-remake of Child’s Play, with Barb’s precocious young daughter Alice filling in for Andy.  Thankfully, Curse avoids the original’s attempt to make the audience suspect the child, since Chucky’s current pop-culture celebrity would make this impossible.

With the other similarities to the first movie comes a welcome return to its more understated tone.  Chucky remains largely inert for the first half of the movie, his actions wisely kept off-screen until absolutely necessary.  It’s a skillful exercise in suspense; the audience knows what’s going to happen, but the movie ratchets up the tension by keeping us in the dark about when.  When the time comes, Chucky’s inevitable grand entrance is just as scary and satisfying as you’d hope for it to be.

It’s unfortunate, then, that Curse has a few glaring flaws as well.  The most noticeable of these is that Chucky himself just doesn’t look right.  It’s hard to explain to those not versed in the franchise, but he appears to have gained an extra chromosome since his last appearance.  And though the movie’s midsection provides some enjoyably hokey kills, the final confrontation is a letdown, as is the rest of the ending – excuse me, endings, because this movie has about three of them.  Thankfully, they’re somewhat redeemed by a clever post-credits scene that panders in the best possible way.

The Verdict:  It has its problems, but Curse of Chucky is still better than any fifth sequel has any right to be.  I give it six-and-a-half death-dealing dolls out of ten.

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