Look, Seed of Chucky isn’t my least favorite Chucky movie. (That honor is still held by Child’s Play 3.) But it is an absolute mess of a film. Half of it works as a sort of horror/comedy satire of early 2000s Hollywood. But the other half feels like a mixture of misguided ideas and extremely questionable jokes that straddle the line between good and bad taste. For the first time in the franchise, the dolls—Chucky (Brad Dourif), Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly), and their child, Glen/Glenda (Billy Boyd)—are my least favorite characters. And that’s a bad sign for a franchise about killer dolls. (2.5 out of 5 wands.)
Seed of Chucky
Written and Directed by Don Mancini
Gentle Glen (Billy Boyd) is a ventriloquist’s dummy, the offspring of evil doll Chucky (Brad Dourif) and his doll bride (Jennifer Tilly), both of whom are now deceased. When the orphaned Glen hears that a film is being made about his parents, he goes to Hollywood and resurrects them in an attempt to get to know them better. He is horrified when Chucky and his lover embark on a new killing spree, and Chucky is equally horrified that his son has no taste for evil.
So, where did it all go wrong? There are two major problems with Seed of Chucky. The first—Glen/Glenda. Now, I totally get what Don Mancini was going for here. The horror genre has a history of dabbling in LGBTQ+ stories, and Mancini clearly wanted Seed of Chucky to continue that trend. I mean, the character of Glen/Glenda is a pretty blatant reference to Ed Wood’s Glen or Glenda. The problem is that Glen/Glenda’s arc isn’t focused on enough. Much of Seed of Chucky is about their search for identity. Are they Glen? Are they Glenda? Do they want to be a killer like their parents? These questions could’ve formed the basis of a compelling character arc. But Seed of Chucky is far too irreverent to give these ideas the weight they deserve. Instead, they tend to feel more like extended jokes than facets of a character.
And it doesn’t help that Glen/Glenda devolves into the very tropey “multiple personality” cliche in the third act, where one personality is docile and the other is a killer. Sure, it makes a decent amount of sense within the context of the film. But it’s aged very poorly, and comes across in incredibly bad taste. The general idea was there, though. And I can see how it could’ve been done well. Honestly, I’d be game to see Glen/Glenda return in the upcoming Chucky series, where they can be explored with the depth they truly deserve. Ultimately, I respect what Mancini was going for, and I think everyone’s heart was in the right place. I just think the execution is woefully misguided at best, and regretfully offensive at worst.
The film’s other problem is that it tries to cram too many different plot threads into too short a runtime. And, as a result, the film comes off as a total mess. Tiffany and Chucky get the shortest ends of the stick. Their motivations are the same as always—to find a human body to transfer their souls into and murder a lot of people in the process. There are some added twists—Tiffany intends to transfer her soul into the body of a fictional version of Jennifer Tilly (who plays herself in these scenes, while also voicing Tiffany), and both Chucky and Tiffany decide to give up killing for the sake of Glen/Glenda. However, none of these ideas get the focus they deserve. So, it all just feels like a bunch of noise instead of a compelling narrative. Dourif and Tilly are as wonderful as always as Chucky and Tiffany. But their endless bickering quickly grows grating.
Luckily, all of these problems account for about half of the film, maybe two-thirds. And the rest of the film is this absurd satire of early-2000s Hollywood, filled with all of the stereotypically sleazy people you’d expect. Jennifer Tilly plays an exaggerated version of herself, and she’s easily the best character in the film. Redman also appears as himself, stealing most of his scenes and bouncing perfectly off of Tilly’s energy. John Water’s extended cameo as a creepy paparazzi photographer stalking Tilly is, perhaps, the most enjoyable part of the film. And when Chucky and Tiffany start killing these characters off, the kills are as gnarly as you’d hope for. In fact, some of these kills probably rank among my favorites in the series. Honestly, I’d easily have watched a film solely about Chucky and Tiffany navigating Hollywood. It kind of seems like that’s the movie Mancini wanted to make here, but all of the Glen/Glenda stuff got crammed into it.
At the end of the day, Seed of Chucky is a deeply flawed film. In no world would I say Seed of Chucky is a good movie, but it is often so bad it’s enjoyable again. Some of its ideas are immensely fun, while others are good in concept but poorly executed. The film takes a lot of big swings. When they work, they work very well. But when they miss, they miss badly. Much of it is in very poor taste, but a lot of the satirical elements work well. I don’t think it’s aged particularly well, nor do I think it’ll be a Chucky film I’ll revisit often. Still, I will always respect a film that doesn’t play it safe. The best compliment I can give Seed of Chucky is that it’s never boring. It’s bursting with creative energy and ideas—though, a few too many ideas, to be sure. And it’s a roller coaster ride of strangeness from start to finish. In many ways, it’s kind of a miracle this movie didn’t completely kill the Chucky franchise. And for that alone, it’s worth a look.
2.5 out of 5 wands.