"Chucky", for the uninitiated, is a two-foot tall doll containing the soul of serial killer Charles Lee Ray. Nearly twenty years ago Lee Ray used a voodoo spell to transfer his soul to the doll and evade police capture. The foul-mouthed, murderous toy has been wreaking havoc on unsuspecting B-grade horror movie actors ever since.
In this latest edition Chucky's unnaturally gentle offspring Glen (born of Chucky's equally demonic girlfriend Tiffany) escapes from his owners and goes in search of his family. He soon finds his parents on the set of a movie about the urban legend of their lethal exploits. He revives them with a voodoo amulet, but is horrified by their murderous ways. While Tiffany makes plans to take over the body of her favourite actress, Jennifer Tilly, Chucky tries his best to bring out the killer in Glen.
For Chucky fans around the world this fifth instalment in the Child's Play series (which began way back in 1988) was tipped to be the best Chucky movie so far. With Jennifer Tilly, who made such a success of Bride of Chucky, sharing the lead with series favourite Brad Dourif (the voice of Chucky) and series creator Don Mancini directing the production - it looked like a recipe for horror-comedy heaven. Sadly for fans this was not to be. The problem is not that the film is unrelentingly crass and gratuitously violent - it simply wouldn't be a Chucky film if it were not both those things. The problem is not the ham fisted direction by Don "I ran out of money again" Mancini - his crude and boorish style actually suits the movie well. The real problem is that the film is badly written, badly shot and deadly boring.
You could argue that a movie in which people are decapitated, mangled and have their faces melted off can't possibly be described as "boring" - but Mancini (who wrote or co-wrote all five films) has managed to make it so. The movie is barely an hour and a half long and oh how it drags. Mancini seems to have lost his grip on the X-factor that made the fourth film such an amusing and successful comeback for his creations. He has thrown together all the elements of his formula - creatively gory death scenes, crudity, innuendo and Hollywood in-jokes - but without the usual spark that gave them such flair in the past. That X-factor, at least in part, comes from classic filmmaking values like logical consistency, scene construction and pacing. And it's exactly in these areas that Seed of Chucky falls down so badly. The plot zigs and zags without any apparent direction, critical scenes are ineffectively shot, and wild bursts of action are bordered by tedious padding. To make matters worse, the film springs a twist on the audience without any foreshadowing or reasonable explanation. A twist can be a great plot device, but it has to be used with care. You can't simply yell "surprise" and rip apart the whole fabric of the film because it suits the script - it's sloppy and it jars the audience's experience of the story. It may seem silly to apply any classic values to a B-grade horror-comedy, but that's just where many writers and directors make their mistake. Just because you're shooting a silly film, doesn't mean your technique can be slapdash. Whether you're making a romantic comedy, a western or a period drama the same rules apply - and Seed of Chucky breaks all the rules. Is it worth a trip to the movies? Not unless you're a hard-core fan. Even then you'd be better off waiting for the uncut DVD with all the trimmings. If this would be your first Chucky experience then stay well away - you will only be disappointed.- Alistair Fairweather
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