And now, we reach the end of the Chucky franchise—until this fall’s TV continuation, of course. If 2013’s Curse of Chucky was a soft reboot, then 2017’s Cult of Chucky is a celebration of the franchise. Combining elements from all three eras of the Chucky franchise, Cult of Chucky takes the best parts of the series and turns them into something new. Acting as less of a finale and more of a prelude to future stories, Cult of Chucky is a promising look into the future of the Chucky franchise. Once again led by a captivating performance from Fiona Dourif, a bonkers-yet-entertaining storyline, an atmosphere to die for, and many creative kills, Cult of Chucky is a deeply enjoyable watch. (4 out of 5 wands.)
NOTE: This review contains spoilers.
Cult of Chucky (written and directed by Don Mancini) Chucky returns to terrorize his human victim, Nica, who is confined to an asylum for the criminally insane. Meanwhile, the killer doll has some scores to settle with his old enemies, with the help of his former wife.
James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad delivers exactly what it promises: an enjoyably over-the-top, bloody, and funny adventure. It’s exactly what you’d expect to get when you give a former Troma director a bunch of money and free reign to make whatever he wants. And, in that regard, the film is very successful. Though, if you’re not a fan of films that push the boundaries of what’s tasteful as far as possible, this might not be for you. Like, I’m dead serious. A lot of this movie pushes the boundaries on what’s funny and what’s in good taste. Intentionally, I might add. It feels like Gunn is purposely aiming for that borderline offensive territory. Mostly, however, I think the movie works pretty well. But there are definitely some super questionable moments. Particularly with a fair amount of the film’s humor and some of the plot/character beats.
At this point, I think the Chucky franchise’s greatest strength is its ability to reinvent itself any time its formula gets too stale. The first three films were pretty standard 1980s slashers. But Bride of Chucky successfully reinvented the franchise as more of a horror-comedy—a trend that was continued with more mixed results in Seed of Chucky. And 2013’s Curse of Chucky successfully reinvents the franchise once again, this time as a return to the realm of scarier horror films—now with a bit of a gothic flare. Curse of Chucky is a compulsively watchable film, led by a thrilling performance from Fiona Dourif, a solid story, some super fun kills, and a surprising amount of restraint. (4 out of 5 wands.)
NOTE: This review contains spoilers.
Curse of Chucky Written and directed by Don Mancini Out for revenge, Chucky (Brad Dourif) the killer doll infiltrates the family of a woman, her sister and her young niece.
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.
I get why horror fans don’t like Bride of Chucky. It’s more of a melodramatic comedy with horror elements than a true, traditional horror film. I can see how that might be divisive. However, I loved this movie. Yes, it’s over the top. And yes, the plot makes no sense. But man, is it fun. Everything about Bride of Frankenstein is deeply enjoyable—from the self-referential humor, to the almost soap opera-esque plot, to the over-the-top kills. This movie just oozes creativity, and it’s exactly the breath of fresh air the Chucky franchise needed.
Well, as I predicted, the Child’s Play formula overstayed its welcome. Child’s Play 3 is easily my least favorite of the trilogy. Everything about this film feels tired. It’s the same old basic plot. Chucky (Brad Dourif) finds Andy (Justin Whalin)—this time, at a military academy. Chucky tries to either kill him or take someone’s body—this time, Chucky goes after Tyler (Jeremy Sylvers), one of the other boys at the academy. Nobody believes Andy when he warns them of Chucky’s danger. People slowly start dying, with Andy looking like the most logical culprit. Eventually, things hit a climax as Chucky reveals himself and tries to transfer his soul to another body. Yawn.
There’s something special about big movie musicals. The way the music, visuals, performances, and spectacle all mesh together—there’s just nothing like it. Even when they’re bad, there’s still some joy to be found in them. In the Heights is one of those musicals that’s been begging for a film adaptation since it first debuted. It’s just so joyous and full of energy, with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s (Hamilton) trademark earwormy music and a lovely, heartfelt story. It’s no wonder fans have been waiting a decade for this movie. And thankfully, after a period of development hell that saw the film pass between producers and studios, In the Heights finally has its film adaptation—directed by Jon M. Chu and written by Quiara Alegría Hudes (the musical’s original writer). And it’s good. Honestly, as a fan of the stage version, I can’t imagine how it could be much better. In the Heights is unabashedly a musical. It’s filled with breathtaking beauty, realistic characters, and so much charm. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll feel a part of a community. It’s everything I could’ve wanted and more. (4.5 out of 5 wands.)
“In the Heights“ Written by Quiara Alegría Hudes Directed by Jon M. Chu Music and Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda The creator of “Hamilton” and the director of “Crazy Rich Asians” invite you to the event of the summer, where the streets are made of music and little dreams become big… “In the Heights.” Lights up on Washington Heights… The scent of a cafecito caliente hangs in the air just outside of the 181st Street subway stop, where a kaleidoscope of dreams rallies this vibrant and tight-knit community. At the intersection of it all is the likable, magnetic bodega owner Usnavi (Anthony Ramos), who saves every penny from his daily grind as he hopes, imagines and sings about a better life. “In the Heights” fuses Lin-Manuel Miranda’s kinetic music and lyrics with director Jon M. Chu’s lively and authentic eye for storytelling to capture a world very much of its place, but universal in its experience.
This might be controversial, but I enjoyed Child’s Play 2 more than I enjoyed the first film. Yes, it’s an obvious rehash of Child’s Play, but without the need for tons of exposition, the movie simply gets right to all of the good stuff, resulting in a more dynamic, fast-paced film. This time around, it’s two years after the Chucky doll’s first murder spree, and Andy’s been bouncing around the foster system after his mother was institutionalized for standing by Andy and his stories about Chucky. As the film begins, Andy is taken in by a foster family, only for a re-awakened Chucky to quickly find him and resume his reign of terror. The rest of the film plays out similarly to the original Child’s Play: Chucky terrorizes Andy and his (foster) family, nobody believes Andy about Chucky, and a trail of carnage leads to an explosive climax.
Believe it or not, I’ve never seen a Chucky movie. I know a lot about the franchise thanks to culture osmosis, but I’ve never sat down to watch any of the films. With SyFy working on a TV continuation of the franchise, I figured now was the perfect time to give the movies a watch. And what better place to start than at the beginning, with 1988 Child’s Play. It’s weird watching this movie and knowing that Chucky is going to be a cultural icon because while this is a great horror film it doesn’t have a lot of the trademarks associated with a Chucky film. The kills aren’t particularly gnarly, Chucky’s not cracking a bunch of jokes, and Chucky’s not even in the movie much. It’s more of a thriller than a horror movie, but that doesn’t make it any less fun.
I grew up right around the time Blockbuster started dying. I can remember occasionally going to my local Blockbuster with my family and renting videos, but it wasn’t something we did all that often. With that said, I still have quite a nostalgic kick for the idea of Blockbuster—and video stores in general. For me, video stores are akin to libraries—they’re places you can go to find new films that are curated by people trying to give you a positive experience. And, in that regard, I will always be a little sad about the demise of video stores. Yes, it’s far easier and more convenient to just rent a digital copy of a film from Amazon or iTunes or whatever, but you lose out on that curation, on that sense of community. And it’s this very point that gets highlighted in The Last Blockbuster, a documentary about, well, the last Blockbuster in the world.