After 2004’s troubling Seed of Chucky, the near-decade lull suggesting the Child’s Play franchise may have ended was not entirely unwelcome. Inevitably though, a 6th instalment was produced amid a mixture of hopeful anticipation and apathy. The promise of a return to the horror elements of the original 3 as opposed to the splatstick comedy of Bride and Seed certainly had me interested.
Starting off rather slowly, some stock characters are introduced and the film really doesn’t seem comfortable with what direction it’s taking. However, as it progresses many of the stock characters actually develop personalities and their backstories become clearer in a surprisingly well-written manner compared to most horror reboots/sequels (that is, that there’s any characterisation AT ALL). The fact that the film is scaled back to take place almost entirely in a single house allows the plot to be carried along by these characters, the biggest issue again being that it does take a little while for them to become fully fledged characters. The intended suspense surrounding the titular Good Guy doll himself feels half-baked too, as though it’s accepting the inevitability but feels obliged to throw in some faux suspense regardless.
When Chucky finally does come to life, he brings with him a number of horror set-pieces that, despite the uneasy beginning, consistently hit the mark; be it drawn-out tension such as a Russian Roulette-style dinner sequence, or an all-out gore-filled murder, which are all joyfully explicit in a somewhat ‘Final Destination-esque’ cartoony way. These moments manage that perfect tone where half of viewers will cover their eyes in shock while the other half burst out laughing. It’s a pleasant change to see a horror that isn’t taking itself unduly seriously, and of course Brad Douriff’s non-politically-correct one-liners are present and correct. Chucky himself is obviously a pre-established character and they haven’t messed with his attitude or origins to try and give him an ill-advised ‘modernisation’, and though it seems the filmmakers were obliged to insert two or three naff CGI shots of him, 95% of the time he’s some type of animatronic as in all previous entries so there’s nothing to complain about there.
It’s not until the third act that the film really reaches it’s peak; becoming comfortable with the occasionally brutal, darkly humorous tone it suddenly gets extremely clever, tying up a number of loose ends that more cynical viewers will have noticed, offering plenty of moments to appease fans of the series (especially in a brilliant post-credits scene), and making the film much more intelligent than ‘Child’s Play 6: Chucky kills some people’.
Despite a slow start, this film continuously picks up the pace to become a worthy Child’s Play film and a vast improvement on the last two comedy entries in the series. A tone is found that reflects Chucky’s character brilliantly. The greatest obstacle this film forces itself to overcome is the slow reveal of the eventually well-written characters and plot, whether this is intended or not. Impatient Netflix browsers & channel surfers may be tempted to switch it off after 15 minutes, but it certainly rewards you for sticking through just a little bit longer to the numerous reveals. A sequel has been greenlit so it certainly looks like this entry has put the franchise back on track.