Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Curse of Chucky

Description from IMDB:
After her mother’s mysterious death, Nica begins to suspect that the talking, red-haired doll her visiting niece has been playing with may be the key to recent bloodshed and chaos.

Notable actors: Brad Dourif (of course), Fiona Dourif (his real-life daughter), Danielle Bisutti, A Martinez

My thoughts:
I did not go into this movie with high expectations.  While I enjoyed the previous films, a direct-to-video sequel that comes 9 years after the last installment doesn’t exactly scream “high quality”.  Still, I wasn’t looking for anything amazing, just something entertaining.  So, with my expectations cranked down to an acceptable level, I was ready to begin.

Let’s start with the things I liked about this.
Fiona Dourif was terrific as Nica, the wheelchair-bound protagonist who is suspicious of the Chucky doll from the moment he arrives at the house.  The acting in this movie was considerably below top-shelf, which only made Fiona’s performance stand out even more. 

The majority of this movie takes place in the old house where Nica and her recently deceased mother lived.  It looked fantastic.  It kind of had the vibe of an old castle, or a smaller version The Overlook Hotel.  Huge and spacious, but sparsely furnished and dimly lit.  It allowed the film to feel claustrophobic, while still allowing for a lot of shadows and corners for Chucky to hide in.  Even though we see much of the house throughout the course of the movie, I always felt there was another room I hadn’t seen yet.
Even though I liked the look and feel of the house, I still kind of had a problem with it.  The size of the house (combined with the sparse furnishings) was pretty distracting.  They never said why they were living in this house.  I figured there had to be a story behind it.  But, unless I missed it, there was no such story.  Maybe it’s not a big deal, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  Perhaps this isn’t a problem for everyone, but I found myself waiting for the bomb to drop.  I was waiting for the scene where they would talk about this house, and how them living in it was central to the plot somehow.  I felt like Dignan, screaming, “How did an asshole like Bob get such a nice kitchen?” 

There was a bit of showing the audience the weapons of the family’s destruction early on.  “Here’s a knife.  Here’s an axe.  Here’s some rat poison.”  And so on.  The Evil Dead remake did this extremely well, building up a level of anticipation for the promise of gore to come.  The same concept was at work here.  The same concept was at work here.  And, while it wasn’t done nearly as well as Evil Dead, it was still enjoyable.

I really love the delivery guy at the beginning of the movie.  It was like they cast him straight out of porn.  “Hey there, pretty lady.  I like your face.  Is your mother home?  Yes?  Too bad.  We could’ve had some fun.”  (This is a bit of an exaggeration, but not as much as you might think.)

He fixes the cable?

Now for the things I didn’t like.
The Chucky animation looked horrible.  It’s been a while since I’ve seen the other movies, so it’s possible that the animation in those is worse than I remember, but it was really cheesy here.  I wasn’t looking for it to be perfect, but it was distractingly bad.

There’s a trope that is common in movies with children, and I really dislike it.  It’s when the child is the only one who can hear the doll talking,  yet acts like everything is normal.  In this movie, the little girl kept saying, “Chucky told me this.”  At one point, she dropped the line, “Life’s a bitch and then you die, bleeding like a stuck pig.”  Which, while humorous, struck me as extremely odd.  What little girl says stuff like that?  Wouldn’t she think it was strange that Chucky told her such a thing?  She was young (they don’t mention her exact age, and I’m terrible with the ages of children, but I would say she was no older than 7).  Wouldn’t she be freaking out that this doll – which is almost the same size she is – is talking to her and saying things like that?  Sure, the Good Guys dolls talk, but it’s mostly benign chatter like, “I’m your friend to the end,” and “I like hugs.”  Not “Your whole family is going to die tonight.”  Unless we’re dealing with extremely stupid children, they would react differently than the children in these movies do.

There’s a scene where a wheelchair hits a full-grown-man, and he does a complete flip.  I don’t necessarily care that this flies in the face of Earth gravity so much as I care that it looks terrible.

There was a complete lack of understanding of how electronics work.  On multiple occasions the power was blinking in the house, and the screens of the laptops in use were also blinking (in one instance, the screen turned to static snow, like an old TV with bunny ears on a terrible connection).  Laptops have batteries.  If the power blinks, laptop screens do not blink.  And yet, over and over again, that’s exactly what happened here.

They worked very hard to work the story of this family in with the first Child’s Play movie.  While I enjoyed the idea behind it, the execution was terrible, and it resulted in entirely too many false endings.  It’s like they weren’t quite sure how to end it.  The first ending was fine, if a bit sudden and more than a little illogical (I won’t discuss those issues here, since it would include a pretty big spoiler).  But each one after that got a little more goofy.  I could almost see the filmmakers winking at me.  “See?  See?!  Get it?!”  It got to be a bit old by the end of it.  (The end of the last false ending before the credits was really terrible.  And then, of course, there’s a stinger after the credits.  Just thinking about it makes me tired.)

My main problem was this: this movie didn’t seem like it knew what it wanted to be.  It was pretty serious and dark for the most part.  But, eventually, it turned into dumb Chucky one-liners, while never changing the tone of the movie.  It’s like they wanted to mix the darker horror elements of the original with the goofiness of the latter movies, but it just didn’t work.  If there’s a happy medium between those, they didn’t find it.

All of this sounds like I hated it.  I didn’t hate it.  For the most part, I enjoyed watching it.  If nothing else, it’s worth watching for Fiona Dourif and the creepy spaciousness of the house.  If you’re a fan of the previous movies, you may not love this, but I’m sure you’ll find enough to enjoy to make it worth your while.

In summary: it wasn’t great, but it was more-or-less enjoyable.  A rousing review, I know.

Rating: 2/5

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Let's Talk About: Escape From Tomorrow Trailer

This will be less "talking about" and more "just watch the trailer and get excited with me, please".

This was shot completely on-sight (and completely illegally) at Disney World.  It looks completely unique and extremely creepy.  I'm trying not to get too excited about it, lest my expectations get too high before the October 11 release date.  

Needless to say, very much looking forward to this one.