New on Netflix, digital download, and BluRay/DVD from Universal Studios Home Entertainment!
aka CHILD’S PLAY 7
Directed by Don Mancini
Written by Don Mancini
Starring Fiona Dourif, Alex Vincent, Allison Dawn Doiron, Michael Therriault, Zak Santiago, Ali Tataryn, Marina Stephenson Kerr, Adam Hurtig, Grace Lynn Kung, Elisabeth Rosen, Summer H. Howell, Christine Elise, with Jennifer Tilly, & Brad Dourif as the voice of Chucky!
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What makes the sixth sequel to CHILD’S PLAY worth seeing is that Don Mancini, who has had control over the Chucky franchise since the beginning, is never afraid to take chances with the ongoing adventures of our favorite serial killer trapped in a doll. What makes these chances pay off, is that the series has maintained its personality and character through every incarnation. This makes the CHILD’S PLAY series all the more entertaining and this last installment a must see for fans who have followed this series from the very beginning.
By the time Part Seven of the CHILD’S PLAY franchise, there’s quite a lot of continuity to sift through at this point. But the constant, no matter what happens, is Chucky himself. Chucky is still a funny, sarcastic, sadistic, misogynistic, evil bastard. This continuity hinges on both Mancini’s understanding of the character and the fact that Brad Dourif keeps returning as the voice of the little monster. Chucky’s personality never changes and the fact that it hasn’t really changed in all of these films is the constant that allows one to immediately feel at home, even if you haven’t seen one of the previous films. Still, seeing them all will give you a fuller experience as this one definitely utilizes continuity that few other film series dare do these days.
We open with Andy Barclay (an all grown up Alex Vincent who starred as Chucky’s original friend til the end in CHILD’S PLAY) attempting to return to normalcy, but having trouble finding a date who hadn’t googled him and found out his checkered past and the deaths that seem to follow him. Returning home from another bad date, we see that Chucky is still a major part of his life in one of many twisted scenes this movie has. We then check over with Nina Pierce (Fiona Dourif, daughter of Brad) who survived the last film CURSE OF CHUCKY, yet hasn’t fared well since no one believes dolls can get up, talk, and murder folks. Moved to a low level security mental facility, Nina gets to know the patients—all of whom are pretty crazy themselves and maintains her treatment with Dr. Foley (the very Chris Sarandon-esque Michael Therriault). When a Good Guy doll shows up at the institution, followed by another doll dropped off by a mysterious Ms. Valentine (Jennifer Tilly), things start getting weird when bodies start falling and Nina begins seeing Chucky running around and killing again. But the opening scene shows Andy in possession of Chucky? How can Chucky be in two places at once? All is answered as Chucky gives siege to the asylum in hopes for his own freedom and a chance to live a normal life.
There are many things this film gets right; first and foremost, Mancini never forgets that the heart of these Chucky films is that no one ever believes a doll can talk. There’s a sort of mystery structure at play in the first CHILD’S PLAY that Mancini was able to recapture in CURSE OF CHUCKY (after the films got increasingly cartoony with every segment in between). So here, with Chucky showing up in multiple places, one immediately assumes someone is nuts and pulling a copycat killing spree. Whether this is true or not isn’t important, as Mancini sticks to structure and reveals where the real Chucky is and revels with the viewer in seeing the little bastard do his thing with no one believing that he actually exists. With the setting being a mental asylum where the lunacy is thick, it makes for the perfect place to set a movie where no one believes in the words one is speaking as doctors examine and orderlies condescend to every plea for help.
But on top of creating an amazing story structure, the film also manages to toss out quite a few awesome characters to interact and suffer the wrath of Chucky. I’ll get to Fiona later, but the patients in the asylum and how their mental illnesses work with Chucky is thought out to a genius degree. One of the patients thinks she’s a ghost and says she speaks to people from beyond the grave, so no one believes her when she says she has spoken to Chucky. One patient suffers from the loss of a child and mothers the good guy doll to perverse degrees. Another violent patient is strapped to a bed and given a drug restricting her movement, which is not something you want to have happen with a killer doll around. While this is reminiscent of the way Freddy knocked off his phobic or mentally ill kids in ELM STREET 3, the kills in CULT OF CHUCKY propels the story rather than simply replays the same kill scene over and over.
Visually, this is a fantastic film as well, as Mancini doesn’t forget to dazzle us with exotic kills and memorable visuals. The setting of the asylum is sterile and utterly colorless with white walls and furniture—making it the perfect backdrop to highlight the red stuff when blood is spilled. On top of that, there are some beautiful effects involving glass and snow as the film realizes that setting films in snow makes for an even cooler climate as well as visual in horror.
Add to that some absolutely fantastic Chucky work and this is one sequel for the books. The puppeteering and visual look of Chucky is a little different this time around as Chucky has different forms he takes throughout the story. Still, the look is basically the same though some have damage and missing appendages, some have shorter hair, and all have a sort of wider face that seems to be the biggest change from the last time I saw the character, but I feel this change was made to evoke more emotion in the face more than anything. The mouth work in this film is amazing and despite the use of some greenscreen, the little guy moves better than ever. One observation and I hope they correct this in future installments is that they have always gotten the weight of Chucky off a bit—especially when they focus on his little feet hitting the floor. It just doesn’t carry the heft the doll should. I think if they would make the feet a little bigger on the doll itself, it would make for a more believable weight to the doll and make it function more believably in the scene. Otherwise, Chucky looks better than ever in this film.
Fiona Dourif does a fantastic job in this film as Nina. She’s been through hell and back in this and the last film and really reflects that in her performance. There is a lot of emotional range involved in this installment and it’s evident she has inherited a lot of her father’s acting skills, especially when she is allowed to let loose and be nuts here. Alex Vincent gives off a little less presence, but while his part is smaller in this film, he definitely has some scenes to show how you don’t have to be killed by Chucky to be affected by him in a negative way. Tilly has her character down in this one, but develops her role in the series as well. I didn’t think they were going to acknowledge BRIDE OF CHUCKY and SEED OF CHUCKY, but her appearance here suggests otherwise and this attention to continuity really does make for a fuller story. Fans of the films will also be surprised at a post credits sequence where another person from Chucky’s past returns.
While we have seen franchises come and go, there are few that have maintained their integrity as the CHILD’S PLAY franchise has. I can’t wait for the inevitable sequel to this one as Chucky has been given some new powers and a whole new situation by the end of this one. This BluRay comes with a few fascinating special features including; a look at how the cast and crew of the Chucky franchise has become a family in “The Dollhouse,” the “Insanity of Cult of Chucky” looks at how the setting inside the asylum was made and how it affected the story, “Good Guy Gone Bad: The Incarnations of Chucky” looks at the effects and new looks of Chucky with Chucky puppeteer/effects man Tony Gardner, and there’s a commentary track I can’t wait to listen to with Don Mancini and Tony Gardner as well.
And finally… here’s another animated short film from the mad mind of micro-budget filmmaker Sonny Fernandez. This one is about the man…er…toy of the day, Chucky in a short entitled Find out more about Sonny Fernandez’s films and animations here!