REVIEW / SERIES REVIEW – After “The Curse of Chucky” and “The Return of Chucky”, Don Mancini finds his famous killer doll with a series consisting of eight episodes. A generous and joyfully outrageous program, which takes up the fundamentals of the saga while giving it a new lease of life.
Chucky: a (new) new beginning for the good guy
In 1998, after two disappointing sequels to the child’s play, the franchise on the famous murderous doll reaches its peak with Bride of Chucky. In this gory and hilarious opus, the toy voiced by Brad Dourif finds new life thanks to the arrival of Tiffany Valentine (Jennifer Tilly), former girlfriend of serial killer Charles Lee Ray, whose soul has been transferred into the doll good guy.
After this enjoyable feature film orchestrated by Ronny Yu, screenwriter and franchise creator Don Mancini tries his hand at directing with Chucky’s Son, the fifth installment is even worse, trashier, and funnier than its predecessors. The success is not there but the filmmaker and author do not put aside this cult character of horror cinema and return in 2013 in 2017 with two Direct Videos more modest but deeply sympathetic: Curse of Chucky and Return of Chucky.
In these two films, Chucky terrorizes a new heroine, Nica (Fiona Dourif), a young paraplegic woman who helplessly witnesses the massacre of her entire family, before the toy possessed by Charles Lee Ray tries to take possession of her body. If this character occupies a central place, Don Mancini does not abandon Tiffany and Andy (Alex Vincent).
After working on the series Hannibal and Channel Zero, Don Mancini is convinced that the best way to continue to evolve Chucky is through the small screen. For this first season, he proceeds in the same way as for the last two feature films, keeping the elements that made the success of the saga and incorporating them into a known landscape but filled with new elements, thus confronting his toy with adolescents.
A communicative pleasure
The first season of Chucky succeeds at all levels whereas the last Scream failed. Before reintroducing its iconic characters, the series takes the time to introduce its main protagonists and give them enough depth, whereas recent Ghostface victims are just cartoonish archetypes serving as cannon fodder.
She makes them likable and touching so that Chucky can better destroy their universe afterward, or hateful to offer them an interesting redemption. Don Mancini builds oppositions between them which will gradually give way to solidarity in an attempt to overcome the monster, crueler than ever. Played by Zackary Arthur, the young Jake Wheeler must already face the mourning of his mother when the doll is embedded in his life to reduce it to ashes. His combativeness is therefore credible. It is the same with all the reactions and the evolution of the other teenagers.
Chucky’s main objective in the various episodes is to convince one of the young heroes to be guilty of murder. To do this, he obviously does not hesitate to show them the way by doubling his inventiveness. Impalement on perfectly sharp cutlery placed in a dishwasher is for example memorable.
A known but never boring setting
Chucky immediately makes many allusions to its own mythology but therefore prefers to wait before offering fans the long-awaited reunion. This once again proves Don Mancini’s pleasure in continuing to expand his universe and create real toy opponents in Charles Lee Ray’s hometown.
The town of Hackensack is reminiscent of famous fictional settings like Haddonfield or Woodsboro. Despite its bloody past, treated through particularly funny flashbacks, horror is not supposed to arise in this quiet place where the houses look alike. If this ultra referenced place could arouse polite reactions of boredom, it still allows Don Mancini and his team to give it they’re all.
Besides the tasty nods to films like Halloween, the series diverts classic events of the genre to bring ideas that often work very well. The passage where Chucky does not manage to kill two characters in the middle of a romantic break in a room during a big evening is one of them.