Seed of Chucky Review
If your only experience of Chucky, the serial killing doll voice by Brad Dourif, is through his debut in the original Child’s Play, then Seed of Chucky, his fifth big-screen venture, is likely to come as a surprise. Over the course of the intervening 16 years Chucky has not only become a major franchise to rival the likes of Freddy, Jason and Michel Myers, but he’s also reinvented himself as a much more comic figure. Gone are the tightly honed thrills of Child’s Play which came courtesy of director Tom Holland – in their place are wisecracks, cheap puns and lashings of purposefully over the top gore.
Interestingly, one man other than Dourif has seen this transition through, and that is Don Mancini who received sole writing credit on all the films from Child’s Play through to Bride of Chucky and who now moves up to writer-director on this latest effort. As such it’s difficult to bemoan the character and tonal shifts as being the result of studio interference, but then it’s also debatable as to whether Mancini has made the correct decision in allowing Chucky to take this route. After all, whilst Bride of Chucky was most definitely a step up from entries two and three, it still pales in comparison to the original.
Furthermore, the general concept behind Seed of Chucky could be taken either way. Our chief villain and his fellow doll wife, Tiffany, learn of a son (again made of plastic) who slowly gets turned onto killing following an initial pacifist stance. Meanwhile, the usual voodoo soul shifting subplot involves the pair wishing to transfer themselves into the bodies of hip-hop artist Redman and actress Jennifer Tilly respectively, both of whom are playing themselves. Complete nonsense, of course, but then most horror is.
So in taking the comic route, how should Seed of Chucky be approached? Certainly, it isn’t the kind of film to expect any genuine scares from. Save for an initial stalking that sticks firmly to the old clichés but still proves effective, Mancini is otherwise aiming for the post-pub crowd. As such the gore levels are often obscenely high, though still cartoon-ish enough to ensure a 15 rating, and there’s an oddball cast list which appears to be screaming out for a cult audience. Thus Pink Flamingos director John Waters rubs shoulders with former S Club 7 member Hannah Spearritt; ex-Hobbit Billy Boyd provides the voice of Chucky and Tiffany’s offspring; and numerous British character actors occupy smaller roles, from Nicholas Rowe (still best known for Young Sherlock Holmes) to Jason Flemyng.
Such adornments do prove distracting and make Seed of Chucky amble along agreeably enough. Unfortunately, the comedy isn’t quite to enticing and errs defiantly towards the juvenile. Apparently the fact that a kids’ doll is saying the word “fuck” should be taken as a source of great amusement and therefore it’s a gag that Mancini never tires of. Likewise, the potential for Hollywood in-jokes courtesy of Tilly’s presence as herself never rises above a series of lame gags about tits and chocolate – a level of humour that prevails throughout and soon becomes wearying.
More problematic, however, is the fact that much of this relies on simple talking head shots of the dolls and to be honest this doesn’t result in the most interesting of visuals. Whereas, once upon a time, Chucky looked quite terrifying with the cute freckles and ginger locks redressed with a snarl, now he simply comes across as too approachable; the various wounds and scars which adorn his face now look too forced and therefore lacking the requisite edge. That said, Mancini doesn’t really demonstrate much of an eye elsewhere so it’s arguable that a more straight faced approach to the material would have benefited the film in this respect. What is certain, however, is the fact that much of the strained humour most definitely outweighs many of the qualities and as such brings Seed of Chucky down a level or two.
A new release, Seed of Chucky looks and sounds expectedly fine on Region 2 disc. We get the film with an anamorphic transfer plus a choice of DD5.1 and DTS mixes. In terms of its image, the film is especially pleasing. Being darkly lit for the most part, the disc has plenty of opportunity to encounter problems, yet these are all neatly sidestepped. In their place we find solid blacks, fine detail and an excellent clarity. Moreover, the print remains clean and damage-free throughout.
As for the soundtrack, though both mixes are technically sound and demonstrate few problems, there is little to separate them. Indeed, switching between the two presents barely any differences even during the louder scenes. As such those without DTS capabilities aren’t missing out on much, if anything at all, though as said both demonstrate no problems.
The extras are sadly more of a mixed bunch. The pick is Don Mancini’s and Jennifer Tilly’s joint commentary. A chatty affair, this proves to be highly engaging. Certainly, you won’t learn a great deal from it, but it’s a nice way to pass an hour and a half. Disappointingly, the same can’t be said for the rest as much of it goes for the humour rather than the informative. Indeed, the major contributors to the other pieces aren’t so much Mancini and Tilly, but the dolls themselves replete with lame gags and wisecracks. As such the slideshow is near unwatchable, whilst the two featurettes are effectively spoiled by their presence. This is especially a shame when it comes to the ‘Conceiving the Seed of Chucky’ doc as its discussions with Mancini on Chucky’s transition over the years proves very interesting.
Unlike the main feature, all extras come without optional subtitles.