Tagline: [Dove: Sorry guys, I literally can’t find one. JC?] [JC: All I could find was “Be afraid. Be effing afraid.” Which is pretty effing pathetic, if you ask me.]
Summary: 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.
After the disappointment of Seed (JC, you ok, hun? [JC: Okay about what? There’s just a big blank spot where my memory of that recap should be. Thanks for protecting me, brain!]) I put off watching this. I was so pissed off. I didn’t even read about it. I didn’t believe people who said “Chucky has gone back to his roots.” And, retrospectively, I was right. The Lakeshore Strangler’s roots would be strangulation, which is still absent.
But when I finally did, I was delighted. And had I known what a delight Fiona Dourif was, I’d have watched a lot sooner. (If you don’t love her as Bart in Dirk Gently, I think you’re probably broken. Though I get it if you can’t bring yourself to watch something created by Max Landis.) [JC: That’s not a thing I’ve seen. My introduction to Fiona was on True Blood. I knew she was in it, I had no idea what she looked like, but as soon as I saw her, I was immediately like, “yup, that’s gotta be her.” She looks just like her dad. But while I’m not sure whether or not we would call Brad conventionally attractive (I personally find him attractive, but I gravitate toward people with an interesting look as opposed to your more blandly pretty movie star types), Fiona is fucking gorgeous, and a total badass in this movie. I honestly think she was one of the girl crushes that helped me realize my bi-ness.] [Dove: I would say that he was… *thinks* maybe “delicately beautiful” in Cuckoo’s Nest, and since then has been variations of attractive since then – but you’re right, he has a more interesting look than classically handsome. And Fiona is the same. She’s oddly appealing as Bart, a woman who hasn’t washed or brushed her hair for years and is most often covered in blood. And she’s delightful as Nica too.]
I have only seen this and Cult once, both of them were watched back-to-back, so I remember very little about either of them.
We open with a white delivery van driving to a fabulous detached house tucked into a clearing in the forest. Which looks awesome.
We cut inside the door, and Sarah calls to her daughter that there’s someone at the door. Her daughter, Nica (an adult), is eagerly exploring websites about travelling through Europe, so says she’s busy. Sarah persists and eventually Nica gives in and answers the door. In a longer shot, we see that she’s in a wheelchair and has to actually go past her mom, who is only a few strides from the door. A single shot explains a lot. [JC: She was playing solitaire, Dove. It was very important.]
It’s nice to have an opening that isn’t spattered with cum.
The delivery guy hands over a parcel that is Chucky-sized. Or filled with clothes. He flirts with Nica. And who can blame him. She’s very pretty. He actually recognises her from college, and Nica has to admit she never finished the course, her study was on completion anxiety, ironically.
Once he leaves, Sarah joins her daughter. Nica asks if she should ask him out, since the interest was very much mutual, and Sarah immediately shuts that down, saying he was just being nice. And she’s only saying this because she doesn’t want Nica to get hurt. [JC: Such. Bullshit. The implication being of course that no one could possibly find someone in a wheelchair attractive, so of COURSE he just felt sorry for her. Bull. Shit. Nica is everything.] [Dove: I’m so used to emotionally abusive mothers, I didn’t even think about the disability playing into it. Like, the disability is just a prop for controlling her. If she was depressed or had bad hair or… literally anything, Sarah would use it to control her daughter. I… have issues.]
They have a back and forth where Nica says that her mom was supposed to stop using the home shopping network. Sarah says she’s been clean for three weeks. Nica then says maybe Sarah has a secret admirer. Then pointedly adds that she doesn’t want to see her mother get hurt.
Inside the box is a rather clean and uncanny valley style Chucky. Not quite like the original movie, but much closer to that model than the more recent ones.
Neither of them really get why an anonymous source would send them a doll that cheerfully says, “I’m Chucky, wanna play?” So Sarah drops the doll in the trash. [JC: This is the only appropriate response to finding this monstrosity on your doorstep.]
We cut to an exterior shot of the house by night. The music builds and we hear screaming from inside. A light goes on. We cut to Nica turning on her bedside lamp. She goes to her mom’s room, but Sarah is not there. She heads downstairs, by way of a metal cage elevator that is nightmare fuel even outside of a horror movie.
My first job was in Woolworths, we had a cage elevator. It would frequently get stuck between floors, but we weren’t allowed to load it, run to the next floor and call the elevator, we had to ride in it. Apparently running up or down a single flight of stairs and going through two coded doors wasted too much time. Yeah, most of us lost about an hour a month being stuck in that fucking thing. But at least we weren’t wasting time. I kind of hate elevators ever since, but particularly cage ones. Something about seeing the walls slide by as you move freaks me out – it’s both creepy and inviting broken limbs/digits if you touch the wrong place while moving. [JC: I don’t think I’ve ever been in a cage elevator, but I always thought they looked hella cool. My local art museum has a glass elevator, and those always freak me out. Too many horror movies where they crash down and shatter with someone inside.] [Dove: Once you’re done with Poseidon Adventure, move on to Towering Inferno. Great elevator scene.] [JC: When I was looking up info on Poseidon the other day, I realized I’ve had the two movie casts confused in my head for a long time. I was very surprised to discover Steve McQueen was not in Poseidon. Roddy McDowall is, however, since apparently I’ve become fixated on him over the last couple months or so.]
This elevator is mostly open, with it running from the first floor landing to the ground floor (or second floor landing to the first floor, for you weird Americans who have not adopted the frankly incomprehensible way of labelling floors that Brits love). But still. Nightmare fuel.
Also, this movie is beautifully lit/shot. Proper old school. Mild desaturation, deep reaching shadows. None of the bright happiness of Bride/Seed. It feels like an old horror movie.
As Nica exits the elevator, she reacts in growing horror. There’s a cut to the floor showing an expanding pool of blood, which reflects Nica’s horrified reaction. She calls the emergency services, and the camera pans back to show Sarah’s body lying in the hallway in a pool of blood. As the camera pans back further, we see Chucky sitting in a chair nearby.
Like I said, beautifully shot. Perhaps they had to get all the silliness out of their systems before coming back to do a real Chucky movie, like a juice cleanse for the creative aspects. [JC: Whatever evil was possessing Don Mancini was exorcised successfully, and thank God, or the flying spaghetti monster, or what have you.]
Next we have the credits, which is done with panning around Chucky in the chair, as when we see the hallway again, the emergency services have arrived, and it’s clear there’s no hope for Sarah.
We cut to an exterior shot of the house during the day, and damn that’s a pretty house. I wish there was a plan online. I kind of want to build it in The Sims.
Enter Barb and Father Frank. Barb is Nica’s sister. They find Nica tearfully clearing out Sarah’s craft supplies. Barb gives her a hug and Nica says that Sarah had been fine. She’d been taking her meds. Why would she do that? So the death was ruled as suicide.
Father Frank offers his condolences, which Nica politely thanks him for, but points out that she and Sarah left the church a long time ago. Barb says that she thought it would be nice to have someone to talk to, since they have to pray for Sarah’s forgiveness, y’know, because suicide is a sin. This does not sit well with Nica, who says that Sarah was mentally ill. Actually, Father Frank is a lot less pushy about religion than Barb. Barb seems to have the old-school hard line, but Frank is more soft and accepting of everything, offering pity rather than judgment. Nica comments that both she and her mother have had their fill of pity.
At this point, Ian (Barb’s husband), Jill (the live-in nanny) and Alice (Ian and Barb’s daughter) arrive. Nica says she has a surprise for Alice and turns to the chair. Chucky is no longer there.
Alice then says she needs to pee. Ian gives Jill’s behind a long, lingering look and informs his wife he’d better go with Alice and the nanny to ensure that Alice does a successful pee. [JC: This kid is plenty old enough to pee by herself, without half the family listening at the door, thank you very much.]
Jill tells Alice she doesn’t need to lock the door. Alice immediately locks herself in. While Ian awkwardly chats up Jill, Alice does her business, and notices a shower curtain moving. She approaches with trepidation and eventually shoves the curtain back. Chucky is there. Which means he just watched a kid pee. [JC: Well, listened at least. When my step-cousin was about 7 or so, he used to run around our grandparents’ house hiding and waiting for someone to find him. One time, he was hiding in the bathtub when our grandma came in to pee, as she discovered after she’d finished. She thought it was hilarious. He, on the other hand, was mortified, poor kid.] As Alice reaches for Chucky, he reaches an arm to her, giving us a jump scare. Ian and Jill freak out, and Jill grabs a nail file to jimmy the lock. When she manages to open the door, this is on the other side.
Cut to downstairs. Barb has handed Nica a leaflet for Dawning Day, an assisted living facility for the disabled. Since the house was left to both sisters, Barb thinks they should sell. It’ll be so fabulous, the care home is so much closer to Barb’s house and Nica will be set for life with the money she gets from the sale. Nica sagely points out this is not about her. Barb concedes that they’re struggling financially. Shit’s getting real for Barb, y’know. Ian’s working at Starbucks. Alice will have to go to public school. (That’s private, for us Brits.) It’s like they’re working class or some shit. Nica, sell the motherfucking house and let them be middle class again. [JC: Oh no, public school, the horror. Won’t someone think of the children, etc etc. Also, if you’re so hard up for money, maybe don’t pay your nanny $400 a week, you know?]
Nica incredulously points out that they have a live-in nanny. Even if she wasn’t played by Fiona Dourif, I love Nica. Barb counters that it’s not really working out, and mom would have wanted Nica to be taken care of, can she handle the house by herself?
I’m thinking yes. We have no idea how mentally ill Sarah was, or how that really manifested, but I can see slivers of narcissism in the few scenes she was in, so I’m thinking that – grief and guilt aside – day-to-day life just got easier for Nica. So fuck you, Barb.
Alice and co return and Nica is pleased that Alice found Chucky. Though she’s a bit weirded out that he was in the bathroom. She tells Alice that grandma would have wanted her to take care of him. Barb shits on that idea, and Ian says it’s a lovely gesture. Hoo boy, these two are going to be fun, aren’t they?
Chucky, with kid-friendly voicebox, announces he likes to be hugged. Alice hugs him and over the shoulder we see his pupils dilate. [JC: Thinking about it, this is a much more telling effect than the eyes blinking or something usual like that. Some dolls have eyes that blink. No doll has eyes that dilate.]
Talk moves to dinner, and Barb makes a passive-aggressive comment about having to get started. Nica says no, they’re her guests, she’ll make dinner. Barb expresses doubt. Barb is an absolute twat. I really can’t wait for Chucky to get to her. Alice will be Nica’s assistant, and Chucky will be Alice’s assistant.
You can tell that Nica is pissed off, because she is murdering tomatoes when we cut to her in the kitchen.
Once dinner is prepared, while Nica and Alice set the table, Chucky pours rat poison into one of the bowls, but Nica interrupts him before he can do more. When she gets back to the kitchen, Chucky is under the table, rather than sitting on a chair and Nica spots the open cupboard housing the rat poison. She shakes off the weirdness and goes about her day.
Everyone sits down to dinner, which… uh, is it chilli? If so, why is there no rice or spud to soak up the redness? Or is it something else frightfully delicious that this clueless Brit cannot comprehend? It’s a whole lot of red with tomatoes and beans floating in it, and a bunch of cheese floating on top. Maybe it’s a stew? Am I overthinking this? [Note from the future: it is confirmed as chilli. So where’s the rice?] [JC: I’m still confused by the idea of putting rice in (?) chili. In ‘Merica, we eat chili with cornbread or some crackers crumbled over the top. Once you start involving rice, I feel like we’re trying to backdoor engineer a jambalaya.] [Dove: And I cannot comprehend that you guys don’t have some kind of context for the chilli. You need something kind of bland to enjoy the kick of it.]
[JC, for reference, this is when I started bothering you about vinegar bottles.] [JC: Which I didn’t think I cared about until I saw it doesn’t ship to the US. Now I want it just because I can’t have it.]
We are 20 minutes in and we have not yet witnessed a murder. Sarah is dead, of course, but that was off screen and vague enough for everyone to readily agree it was suicide. This is old school Chucky where setup is far more important than branding.
Everyone takes their seat at the dinner table, [JC: I love this overhead shot. It’s obviously Russian Roulette, and the six bowls are the six chambers of a revolver, with one loaded with a thing that will kill you.] [Dove: Oh god, I just appreciated the symmetry and artistry of the scene. I am so thick.] [JC: No, you just don’t live in a country that worships gun culture, so you’re not primed to see it in everything.] Father Frank says grace, and we all wonder who is going to eat the poison. Jill accepts a glass of wine from Ian, and Barb raises an ORLY? eyebrow. Barb asks if there’s meat in the meal and looks kind of disappointed when Nica says no. Like she was looking forward to doing her rant about how she can’t eat meat and everyone needs to respect her decision. I could be overthinking this bit too, but Barb is proper slappable.
No, wait, I’m not. While everyone heaps praise on the meal, Barb asks for the salt. Which is right in front of her.
Father Frank says the doll looks familiar and Ian says of course, Good Guy dolls were all the rage in the 80s. Another thing that happened in the 80s? A friend of mine belonged to a youth club called “All the Rage”, so it’s like a double win. Jill and Ian both had brothers who had Good Guy dolls. Every time they have even faintly overlapping interests, Ian acts like its unprecedented.
OMG, YOU HAVE TEN FINGERS! I HAVE TEN FINGERS. LET’S BE BEST FRIENDS! LET’S HAVE LOTS OF SEX! (Yeah, I stole that from Dead Like Me. It was a good line.) [JC: *jumps up and down excitedly* I love that show! George is the best! (I realized after typing this that I may be proving the point. We both like a thing! Besties!)] [Dove: We could be on to something here. Basically, JC and I became friends during a lengthy imagined pitch of the Rob Zombie Halloween reboot. We discovered we like horror, swearing and mocking the inane. Let’s be best friends and recap together!]
Naturally such obvious flirtation with the nanny in front of the wife causes anger for Barb and discomfort for everyone else.
And then we cut to long, lingering close-ups of spoons of potentially poisoned chilli (sans meat, sans rice… so basically, tomato soup?) going in mouths, which is uncomfortable on a number of levels. Nobody needs that kind of close-up. [JC: I have to avert my eyes every time. I hate seeing close-ups of food going into mouths. Urgh.]
Alice says that it tastes funny, but Barb tells her to eat it regardless. And yeah, like they’re going to kill Alice. Kids have immunity. Unless you’re watching a real indie movie. And in that case, the kid death is probably the selling point, not the twist.
And after much build up, it’s Father Frank that’s been poisoned. He starts sweating and makes his excuses to leave, saying he has an appointment tomorrow.
He drives off and we cut to a police cruiser pulling up on a road to see a crash, apparently Father Frank lost control and hit a couple in another car, killing them both outright. Frank is, I guess, “not so lucky”. He’s pinned in his car, which is missing the top part and he’s losing epic amounts of blood.
A young cop demands they cut Frank free before he bleeds to death – with a side story that Frank wasn’t drinking, he’s the young cop’s sponsor – and even before it happens, I have a bad feeling about this. Yeah. It appears that the top of the car was just about holding Frank’s head onto his body. Remove the twisted metal, remove the head.
Not entirely sure that young cop will not slip up after seeing his sponsor decapitated by a good intention.
Back at the house, the adults are watching home movies. Barb, it turns out, was a chubby child and is mortified to see herself on screen. Or, technically, projected on a wall.
The movies show a heavily pregnant Sarah, her husband, and Barb as a child. Jill asks what happened to their dad. Barb says he drowned a few weeks before Nica was born. And then the camera pans over to Charles Lee Ray, looking a smidge older than he actually did in the 80s, but not actually as old as he was at the time of filming. [JC: YES, 63-YEAR-OLD BRAD DOURIF CAN TOTALLY PASS FOR 38-YEAR-OLD BRAD DOURIF I TOTALLY BUY THIS UH-HUH YES MA’AM.] Nica asks who that is, but Barb doesn’t know and guesses some neighbour from Chicago.
Alice comes in, complaining that she can’t find Chucky, he’s hiding. The adults assume she’s misplaced him and Barb says Jill will help her look. Ian attempts to follow Jill, but Barb tells him they’re not done with the home movies. [JC: *nods wisely* Everyone loves other people’s home movies.]
Nica sees the packing label from the wrapping Chucky came in and excuses herself to make a call. This is when she realises that the phone lines are down. And there’s no reception for her cell phone either.
Cut to Jill searching for Chucky while Alice brushes her hair. In the mirror, we see Chucky go scampering past. Alice says, “There he goes!” but Jill missed it and comments that she’s not in the mood for this. However, she does search for him, but finds nothing but a couple of jump scares (window in the bathroom) and a missing knife on the magnetic strip in the kitchen.
She turns around and comes face-to-face with Barb. The lightning cracks ominously. Shit’s about to go down and all that, but then SUBVERSION! Barb and Jill make out. [JC: I could have sworn I asked you if you’d hit the Surprise!Lesbianism closer to you sending me Amazon links to weird vinegar bottles I can’t buy. Guess it was a bit later. Time is a meaningless construct.] [Dove: Now I’m very confused. I feel there was a day between those two things.] [JC: I thought you might be right, so I checked our messages. According to the timestamps, they were four hours apart. We’re clearly both living in a timeless haze.] Jill, honey, you’re too good for Barb. She seems like an ass, and you’ve been super nice so far. Aside, I suppose, from having an affair with a married person. If they’ll cheat with you, they’ll cheat on you.
Nica enters the living room, and finds the movie has finished and Ian is asleep on the sofa with Chucky beside him. Nica is starting to get really freaked out by Chucky’s movements.
Ian wakes up and Nica says she thinks Alice wanted Ian to find the doll. Ian says that he’s not been spending much time with her. Chucky comments, “Life is short, ha ha ha!” Nica and Ian can’t remember whether the dolls always said that. Ian playfully asks what else Chucky’s been saying to his daughter and Chucky responds, “I like to be hugged!”, “Wanna play?” and “Hi, I’m Chucky, and I’m your friend to the end.” The latter has a sinister pause, which creeps Nica out.
She says she’ll take the doll up. This leads to her getting in the elevator with Chucky on her lap. And the inevitable stuck-between-floors that I anticipate with literally every elevator in any movie (regardless of genre). To be fair, it looks as if the power’s gone out, and it’s either down to the storm, or Chucky’s managed to rig the power so it goes out after a certain time after he sabotaged it, which doesn’t strike me as very Chucky.
I bet Barb’s sorry she missed this moment. See, you can’t live here alone, Nica. What if the power goes out AND the phone lines are down AND your cellphone has no service AND there’s a storm? You’d be completely helpless! [JC: I mean, what exactly is having someone there going to accomplish in this situation? Literally all anyone can do is wait for the power to come back on.] [Dove: Barb could stand there being right about how helpless Nica is. Never underestimate the importance of a Karen being right.]
But, Barb’s still making out with Jill in the kitchen. She grudgingly pulls away from the makeout session at the sound of the alarm bell Nica rings. Barb bitches that Nica always needs her, then resents Barb for helping. Jill is the only one who understands.
Jill, once again, shows that she’s too nice for Barb, by saying that she’s been thinking. They don’t need the money. This is Nica’s home. Barb counters that Nica’s a mess.
Back with Nica, we hear a knife noise. I don’t know how else to describe it. It’s not the sound of anything except for a knife appearing in a horror movie. Then there’s a squeaky noise, like someone writing on a fogged mirror with their finger. Then Chucky gleefully giggles, giving her a jump scare before the power goes back on. [JC: The knife noise is like Wolverine unleashing his claws, kinda. The squeaky writing-on-the-mirror noise I can’t figure out, though. What the fuck was that? There wasn’t any glass or anything in the elevator, was there? So confused. Or . . . was it Chucky polishing the blade? With his fingers . . . ?]
Alice meets Nica at the elevator and Barb strides over. Alice asks if Nica can read her a bedtime story and Barb answers that Nica’s very tired. When Nica protests, Barb says it’s important Nica doesn’t over-extend herself. Alice wanders off and Nica says that she’s the best judge of whether she’s over-extended. Barb says no, actually, she needs help. She quotes a bunch of stats that basically puts Nica in the position of her heart exploding if she’s even mildly stressed, and Barb says that she’s under plenty at the moment.
Nica comments that she’s disabled, not a child, she is perfectly capable of taking care of herself. And at this point Alice moseys back over and points out that Nica is bleeding. Ah-ha! That’s why we had a knife noise.
Barb says it looks like a knife wound, and Nica must have cut herself making dinner. Then why isn’t the blood dried? That was hours ago, Barb, keep up.
We cut to Alice and Barb praying before Alice sleeps. Alice lists everyone she wants to bless, and Barb asks what about Chucky. Alice says that Chucky told her there is no god. He then added, “Life’s a bitch and then you die, bleeding like a stuck pig.” [JC: Yeah. You know, from the strangulation.] Barb isn’t keen on the swearing, and even less keen on the fact that Chucky told Alice that everyone dies. Barb reassures her and tucks her in, but wants to know who really said those things to her. Alice maintains it was Chucky, and Barb decides to accept that for now.
The storm outside rages, and Alice, bless her, clings to Chucky.
We cut to Nica on the phone, I guess she has service in her room. Not mocking, my house is exactly the same. No service in the living room, perfect reception in my office upstairs. She’s still looking into where Chucky came from. The line is terrible, and all she can make out is “evidence depository” before the line cuts out.
Back with Alice, she’s scared, so she hides under the covers with Chucky. She tells him she’s scared, and finally this is the moment when Chucky responds. He laughs and says, “You fucking should be.” [JC: While I’m okay with the redesign of the inanimate doll, I hate the way the animated doll looks, at least at first.]
Nica makes her way to Alice’s room. We get a jump scare from Jill entering stage right. Nica relays the weirdness of her call about the package, and Jill opines that as long as the doll makes her happy, who cares where it came from.
I’m guessing you, Jill. In about ten minutes.
Jill readies herself for bed, sharing a room with Alice, (while there is a sound of movement from behind her) and Nica heads downstairs. Nica googles “Chucky doll evidence”, which brings up results in Los Angeles, Niagara Falls, Hackensack, Kent Military Academy, and two separate results in Chicago… so everything so far is cannon? Ok then. [JC: I . . . just . . . *helpless shrug and pointless gesturing*] Nica is chronological and goes to the first entry, which shows a picture of Andy with the doll.
Upstairs, Jill is still undressing and there are many lingering shots of the pots used to catch the drips coming through the ceiling. Is that really a good place for Alice to sleep? Won’t it be really cold? Wouldn’t it have been better for her to sleep in the living room where it’s drip-free?
Jill, in her underwear, opens her laptop and tries to videocall someone – I would assume Barb. Isn’t that a bit weird? Naughtie undies chat with your lover, while her child slumbers four feet behind you? [JC: Not to mention you’re right down the fucking hall. Just find an empty room and meet up face-to-face, or tit-to-tit or whatever your particular jam is.]
It now cuts between Nica, whose googling is leading her to information on Charles Lee Ray, and the Jill/Barb video call, where they just wave at each other, because they’ve both got sleepers sharing their room. Barb takes off her wedding ring, and as she turns back to the screen, she sees the tail end of Chucky running past. She assumes it’s Alice and gestures to Jill to check on her. Jill turns to see Chucky stood to the side of her. He kicks the pot of water over, and it floods a plug socket (that is embedded in the floor… is that a thing? OK then) and the electrics flicker while Jill cooks from the inside. [JC: Some of the buildings I work in, office buildings and the like, have outlets in the floor. Never seen it in residential, though.] [Dove: Good point — I’ve seen it in offices, but these were proper antiquey looking sockets.]
Downstairs, Nica is staring in horror at the picture of Charles Lee Ray, which again, doesn’t really look like Dourif did at that time.
Back with Jill, she falls to the floor dead, and Chucky goes off into gales of his iconic laughter.
Barb announces that the power’s out and she’s going to check on Alice, and she and Ian have a conversation about how Barb’s into Jill. She tries to say that he’s projecting his fantasies, and she’s seen the way he ogles Jill. He says ditto. Oh, and he’s checking the nanny cam he set up on Chucky for footage, because if he can prove she’s cheating, he’s taking Alice. Actually, I’m not sure whether it’s the cheating or the cheating with a woman part he’s implying is such a deal breaker. I hope the former. [JC: I hope so, too, but I think it depends on where they’re supposed to live. If it’s a more conservative (read: backward) area, then it’s sadly more likely to be the latter. People suck.]
Barb blusters and flails, and Ian puts in some ear plugs and peacefully lays back in bed while she rages.
Young Sober Cop – remember him? – is talking on the police radio, asking for the blood work on Father Frank. Nothing yet, so he says he’ll check on the people he was with all day to see if they have any answers. Cops don’t really last long in these movies.
Cut to Barb who sees Chucky on the second set of stairs leading to the upper upstairs [JC: The attic? I’m down with calling it the “upper upstairs” from now on.] [Dove: I was trying to avoid the confusion of Brits and Americans using different numbers for the floors. The upper upstairs is now a thing.] and calls up that she has no time for games, Alice. Like, she doesn’t even check whether Alice is in bed, she just assumes from that tiny glimpse of blurred pixels on the video call that Alice is up and running amok, rather than Alice briefly got up and then went back to bed.
Meanwhile Nica attempts to get upstairs without power. She calls for her sister and Barb appears on the landing, with Chucky in her arms and a sombre look on her face.
And then she announces that Alice is playing games. And that’s a nice fakeout. We have seen someone holding the doll so many times that it’s irritating for a third party to ask them why they’re carrying the doll. They’re a hostage. They’re always a fucking hostage.
Yeah, Barb’s not a fucking hostage. She’s furious and searching for the nanny cam. Nica tries to say that there’s something fucked up with the doll, but Barb interprets that as Nica knows about the nanny cam too and has been questing for vengeance. Nica tries to argue, but Barb races to the top floor, and Nica’s stuck two floors down with no way of getting up.
She calls for Jill and Ian, but Jill’s dead and Ian’s got earplugs in. So, yeah, not working.
Then she proves what a badass she is by dragging herself up the stairs.
Up in the attic [JC: AKA the Room of Misfit Cobwebs], Barb and Chucky are searching for Alice, and again I’m wondering why they didn’t actually check Alice’s room.
Barb finds several sunflower pictures, but mostly she’s there for the ambiance of a dust-covered attic filled with miscellanea, such as bird cages and seamstress’ dummies. She checks Chucky for the nanny cam, and instead finds a big knife tucked into his overalls.
We’ve just totes given up on that Lakeshore Strangler thing, haven’t we? [JC: *stares blankly into the abyss*]
Barb puts down Chucky and the knife so she can indulge a jump scare involving a rocking horse rocking apropos of nothing. Chucky takes this moment to disappear.
Back with Nica, she has dragged herself halfway up the stairs.
And Barb sees a rat, leaps back in horror and runs straight into Chucky. She’s thrown by the creepy way he’s moved across the room. And also the creepy way his skin is peeling. She scratches off the top smooth layer to reveal the black stitches from when Tiffany sewed him back together. She reaches to peel another section off and Chucky lunges forward and I nearly died of fright. It’s the first jump scare that really got me.
Barb leaps back in horror and scoots backwards on her butt. They have finally managed to nail the “doll does menacing walk” thing that the technology just wasn’t there for in previous movies. Barb whimpers Alice’s name, and Chucky say that Alice is his. He adds that Barb has her mother’s eyes. And they were “ALWAYS TOO FUCKING CLOSE TOGETHER!” and lunges forwards with his knife. [JC: I’m watching the unrated version, so I have a question: Did your version show Chucky actually plunging the knife into Barb’s eye? Because mine sure did, and I am not okay.] [Dove: No, the rated version cuts away before impact.]
Back with Nica, she reaches the bottom of the second set of stairs. The door opens and an eyeball bounces downstairs. Barb staggers around upstairs, and then falls down the stairs, giving us a close-up on her empty left eye socket.
Ian, by the way, still slumbers peacefully. [JC: Meanwhile, I slept two hours on my couch after work last night; woke up at 4:30am; tried unsuccessfully to go to sleep in my bed; got up; tried to take three mostly unsuccessful naps throughout the day, and it is now past one in the morning again and I have no idea how or if I’m going to sleep tonight. In short, Ian can eat a giant donkey dick.]
Chucky arrives at the top of the stairs with his knife and approaches Nica. Nica drags herself to a nearby closet and grabs another wheelchair. I haven’t mentioned this, but Nica has a lot of chairs, and this was perfectly foreshadowed. She had a special shower chair in the bathroom, one in the kitchen (which maybe has better outdoor tyres?), one in her bedroom, several in the attic – basically, I have no beef with “Nica has an extra chair here” because, according to the movie, that is true for literally every room of the house.
She takes off down the hallway and goes to Alice’s bedroom. Alice is not there, but she sees Jill’s corpse. She takes off again, and manages to lock herself in a bedroom at the end of the hall. And I can’t help but notice that Fiona Dourif has tucked her feet neatly together (crossed) and off the ground, despite the foot flaps not being down. If there are more instances of her using her legs, I haven’t noticed, but I’ve also not been search for it either. I just happened to notice in this scene. [JC: I got really curious about what the heck t5 paraplegia entails when Barb was talking about it earlier, so I did some extremely cursory research. It’s possible for a t5 to have some limited mobility, apparently. Now what we’re not talking about is using the toilet, which likely wouldn’t be possible due to the paralysis of the torso, even though we see an assist bar around one of the toilets.] [Dove: It didn’t even register with me that her disability was specifically named and could be researched. I’m so used to “person in wheelchair, don’t ask what put them there” as the reasoning in any genre — Necromentia being a very good example. Yeah, this is on me for not researching.]
The room Nica is in is Ian’s, so she rushes over to wake him. And yeah, this is not her most coherent. She wakes Ian up by screaming that everyone’s dead and she can’t find Alice. Nica says Chucky’s out there, but doesn’t expand further on why that’s a bad thing, so Ian immediately leaps to his feet, unlocks the door and charges out in search of Alice.
When he sees the bodies, he goes back to Nica and carries her down the stairs. Once she’s in her chair, he pushes her to the garage and says he has to go back for Alice. Neither notice that Chucky has been watching them. Also, Ian’s still not clear on why Chucky needs to be avoided.
Ian checks every creepy place he can think of, such as closets, behind the shower curtain, etc, but finds nothing, not even jump scares.
That’s because Nica is the target. The door slams behind her, shutting her inside the garage, and we see Chucky’s running feet below the car. The car turns on, and Nica finds she can’t get out of the door, while the garage fills with exhaust fumes.
Barb, why weren’t you driving an electric car? You seem like the type of woman who would love to tell everyone that you’re “just doing my bit for the environment”. I blame Barb.
Nica spots an axe, and smashes in the driver-side window. Chucky gives her a kind of ORLY? kind of look, and I’m loving what a badass Nica is. Chucky then takes the keys and… swallows them. Dick move.
Ian rushes in (still without Alice) and Chucky plays possum, making Nica look like someone you probably wouldn’t trust with your kids, since she apparently filled the garage with fumes and started hacking at the car with an axe. Ian takes the axe off her and comes to a horrified “realisation” that she’s the murderer.
Nica tries to defend herself, but cuts off abruptly, pressing a hand to her chest. I’m with you, love, I’ve been having killer panic attacks since Captain Tripps broke out, and the chest palpitations and shortness of breath suck.
Nica hands Ian a syringe and asks him to inject it under her rib. Ian steps back and lets her pass out.
She wakes up in her chair, in the house again, and she’s tied to the chair. So Ian’s not a complete tool, he waited, not refused, to inject her. He asks her where Alice is and she says she can prove that Chucky is to blame. So, y’know, he gags her.
To be honest, Ian is not deliberately clutching the idiot ball like most are at this stage in the movie. He literally hasn’t seen any evidence that Chucky is real – although he hasn’t commented on Chucky’s new sewn-up look. And I suppose it is more plausible to assume that your sister-in-law is the killer over all the inanimate objects in the building. Although I’d probably assume that there was a different human being doing the killing rather than someone I knew and liked. [JC: I was surprised at how not-terrible Ian is during most of the movie. I was totally primed to hate him, then it was like, no? He’s generally okay? Also, it was after we got back to Scarface Chucky that I became okay with the design of the animated doll.]
Also, is it progressive that he assumes she has easily moved through the house, despite the power cuts, in order to murder everyone? Or is it cluelessly ableist that he’s forgotten her physical limitations?
Ian turns his attention to the nanny cam. We get some footage of Ian setting it up, where he gleefully says he put the cost on Barb’s card (A+, I do like petty revenge on cheaters). He skims through until the footage of Jill and Barb making out in the kitchen. Then the doll wanders off and Ian is freaked out to see footage of himself sleeping. He keeps skimming, a frown on his face, so I’m hoping he’s figured out that the doll is moving independently, and manages to stop on a video of Alice saying this is the best game of hide and seek ever and nobody will ever find her.
By the looks of it, she’s in a closet somewhere, since she’s surrounded by old clothes and suitcases. Chucky tells her to keep her fucking mouth shut and Alice is shocked by his language. At least she’s not insisting on calling him Charles. We see Alice getting locked in from Chucky’s POV, and Ian is finally on the same page as Nica.
A smidge too late though, as Chucky appears and uses Nica and her chair as a battering ram. Chucky approaches Ian with the axe and it ends with Ian getting his head split open. And his tongue still protruding despite most of his head being missing. Points for creativity.
Nica manages to free one of her bound wrists and sets about freeing herself as Chucky approaches her now. She doesn’t free herself perfectly, but jerks up the chair so that the swinging axe embeds in her leg, which she can’t feel. That throws Chucky a bit and he can’t work the axe free.
Nica rips off the gag and announces that it’s her turn. She backhands him across the room. Which must feel pretty good, given that as a child she rushed into the studio while her dad was recording his lines for one of the early movies. She timed it to one of his yelled “Ade due damballa” moments and was deeply traumatised. [JC: And yet went on to use the doll prop to traumatize her friends at sleepovers. 10/10 would be BFFs with Fiona Dourif.] [Dove: I hadn’t heard that coda to the story. A+]
Nica grabs the axe out of her leg and swings. She misses the first one but decapitates Chucky on the second. And… uh, his head is just plastic. It’s not like Seed, where the moment they were awakened they were full or mini-human organs. I guess it must be working on the old logic where a certain amount of time needs to pass from being in the body to “turning human”.
The body falls down and Nica has a “yay, it’s over” moment, but does smartly keep the axe instead of tossing it to the side, like most protagonists would do. She grabs some fabric and tends to the wound in her leg… which is… uh, JC, is it in exactly the same place as the knife wound from earlier, or is it on the other leg? [JC: It’s the other leg. Wolverine-sound knife wound was the right leg; axe is the left.]
In the background, Chucky’s headless body gets to his feet. It locates the head and resets itself. He lunges for the back of her chair, and the jerk of his impact knocks the axe off her lap. Then he pelts down the hallway pushing her.
If you’ve never been in a wheelchair, you have no idea how much trust you have to put in the person pushing you. Wing gleefully announced at Disney, while pushing me at a sedate and safe speed, “There’s a slope over there. Let’s do it at a run!” And while Wing would actually never do such a thing (unless we were both up for it, and had no chance of injuring all the people between the top and the bottom, so… pretty much nope), it highlighted how thankful I was that Wing or Raven had been pushing me, and not the asshats I went to school with.
I would not be happy having a prolific serial killer pushing me around.
It results in Nica and her chair going flying over the banister and landing in a heap of broken bones and chair parts on the hard marble floor below. Of course, Nica’s disability is a super power in this instance – most of the broken bones “don’t matter” because she can’t feel them. Come on, Nica!
I really love Nica. Do you know how lovely it is to see a disabled girl be the final girl? Sure, our disabilities aren’t even similar, but she’s got a mobility issue, and I’ll happy take suggestions on other movies that have final girls whose mobility is limited before the villain starts hacking them to pieces. The odds of finding anyone at all in any kind of media, regardless of genre, with my disability is literally zero (outside of medical journals, obv), so I’ll take what I can get.
Nica says she knows his name, and asks why he’s targeting them. He says that he’s an old friend of the family, didn’t Sarah mention it?
Now we get a black and white flashback montage: Chucky meets the fam (Sarah is heavily pregnant with Nica throughout); dad’s funeral, where Chucky gives Sarah a “supportive” smile that leaves her feeling uncomfortable; Sarah tied up in a room, handcuffed to a bed, surrounded by sunflowers (the only colour) and Chucky asking if she likes them. [JC: Interesting that sunflowers are literally all she paints afterwards. I assume it’s down to dealing with the trauma in whatever way you can. Also, when Chucky tells her that the sunflowers were out-of-season and hard to find, I LOL’d. They are obviously not in Kansas, where the fucking things grow everywhere at all times. Most Kansans will develop a deep hatred toward our state flower at some point in our lives.]
Sarah does that thing that I love women to do – lie your ass off to save yourself – she says they’re beautiful. I’ve mentioned it before, actually in reference to another movie where Brad Dourif gets overly attached to someone who has no interest in him [JC: And also wears a terrible and unbelievable wig], but there is no shame in doing this. If you have to lie to someone who could easily kill you, do it. Your life is so much more important than your pride. It actually really bugs me – especially when there’s more than one hostage – when some “plucky” woman can’t help but spit in the face or give a “you disgust me” speech that probably should get them killed, but somehow they just get away with it. It annoys me even more if it gets another hostage killed to prove a point.
Women are not that dumb. We’re really good at seeing what is safe and what is not. We don’t need to get Susan from accounts murdered just to check if those skeevy guys with AK-47s that broke into our workplace are serious.
(Please nobody twist my words to mean “Dove thinks you should go on a date you don’t want to, because you should never say no to a man,” or similar. I mean when genuine danger faces you, just lie, agree, save yourself.) [JC: On the one hand, I hate that society conditions us from birth to be able to do this. On the other, you bet your ass I would humor some violent asshole if it buys me time to escape/fight/survive.]
Sarah continues to be awesome. Chucky says he’s going to pick up Barb from daycare, and Sarah says they should have some time alone together. Chucky asks what about family time, and Sarah says she wants him all to herself. You know what, I was mean about her earlier, but yeah, ok, this woman is protecting her family as best she can. Maybe her later asshattery is in response to this trauma.
Chucky says she’s got a “selfish fucking attitude” and asks if she plans to keep the baby from him when it arrives. She just sticks with the line that she wants him all to herself. And she keeps it up long enough for the police sirens to be heard outside. (Dude, seriously? Turn your sirens off. You could’ve been inside the building before he even noticed if you hadn’t left the sirens on.)
Chucky checks the window for approaching cops and moans, “You told them about us?”
And here, now that she’s safe (well… maybe a smidge less unsafe) she gives him the “you disgust me” speech. And she spits in his face. See? It’s a fucking trope. And it’s all about timing. Me? I’d have waited until the cops were in the room, but y’know, movie.
Chucky places the point of his knife [JC: It’s the voodoo knife from the first movie! Look at that callback!] on Sarah’s pregnant belly and says that he’s always had a thing for family, “especially kids”. Which, uh… really? Funny how that’s literally been never mentioned. Not even in the movie where he actually has a kid.
Fade to black and a scream from Sarah.
Back with Nica, she says, “You did this to me?” And, um, this might just be me, but I am a teensy bit less invested in Nica now. Still love her and all, but why couldn’t she just be disabled, not disabled by Chucky? [JC: . . . yeah. Because apparently there always has to be a reason for a disability; people can’t just be disabled. When the remake came out last year (was that just last year? God, this year is lasting centuries.), a fairly prominent figure in the horror community tweeted something about the kid in the remake having hearing aids, and he hoped that factored into the story somehow, ie Chucky being able to hack into the hearing aids and use them against him somehow (or something like that, I dunno, it was a year ago), otherwise what was the point of making the kid HoH? And I was beyond irritated, because yes, certainly we can’t have someone in a movie have a disability just because it reflects reality or anything, now can we. Fucking hell.] [Dove: “Why would they give a trait that I don’t have to a character? I can’t empathise with someone who’s not like me! This is why representation is bullshit!” And they never see the irony in their rants.]
Chucky says no, Nica’s family did this to him. And we cut to him fleeing the police and heading into a toy store. Oh, hey, didn’t they live in Chicago back then? And then we see footage from the first movie, in black and white, and you can’t help but notice that Mr Dourif is a different shape, especially in the face in both sets of footage. But fuck it, I’m happy to see Brad Dourif in person in any fucking era.
I feel like I should watch the footage against the first movie because honestly I don’t know what’s new and what’s recycled from the first movie in the long shots.
Chucky says it took him 25 years but it was worth the wait. And we cut to another flashback (not in black and white) of him stabbing Sarah with scissors. Uh… I thought she fell or “jumped” downstairs. I’ll admit I know nothing of suicide and have no interest in looking up stats on it, but I’d have thought a stab wound to the stomach is probably not one of the first things that scans as a suicide. [JC: Although it makes sense in context when Nica earlier asked how her mother could do that and made a vague gesture toward her torso. Like, physically how?]
Chucky says since then there have been other families, the Barclays, the Kincaids, the Tillys, but this family was always his favourite.
I can sort of buy that. I can imagine Chucky having a crush on “classy” Sarah with her nice family and good virtues, and living with his serial killer girlfriend in day-to-day life. It would explain why in the first movie nobody looked for Tiffany, if she wasn’t his full-time girlfriend and he’d been in Chicago for months, then why check in with her? And his treatment of Tiff doesn’t speak volumes of adoration. [JC: My reaction to this retcon is generally the same as my reaction to Freddy Krueger’s wife and child in Freddy’s Dead, namely, “SINCE FUCKING WHEN?!?!?” But your explanation makes some sense to me, so I’ll accept it on a provisional basis.] [Dove: On the other hand… when did he rob Vivian Van Pelt of the engagement ring that Tiff thought was hers?]
Chucky says that Nica reminds him of Andy, and Nica asks if he’s dead too. Chucky says, “More or less. I killed his childhood.” Yep, you pretty much did. And also, most of his school.
He adds that he killed her 25 years ago, Nica isn’t living, she’s on life support, and it’s time to pull the plug. Nica counters that he never actually killed Andy, which is actually down to completion anxiety. Now there’s a call back to something that I just thought was a silly joke.
OMG, Nica is so fucking cool. He says he’ll kill her slow, and she says yeah, 25 years, the slowest murder in history, and she laughs in his face. She laughs in his face and asks what he’s waiting for, a sign from god? [JC: Callback to earlier, when Barb asked if Nica was waiting for a sign from god to start living.]
At this point, the lights come back on. Nica reacts immediately, dragging herself to the elevator, and Chucky slips in a pool of blood. Um, yeah, she does actually bend her knees to tuck them into the elevator here too, but she gets there before him, and has to hold the door shut because the power goes out again before she can move. This results in Chucky slicing her fingers as she holds the gate shut, but Nica holds on until she has a chance to steal the knife.
She slides to the back of the elevator and holds the knife out.
Chucky runs at her, kicking, biting, etc, but Nica manages to stab him. There’s a moment of peace, and then another jump scare.
At this point, Young Sober Cop (remember him?) turns up at the property. He hears Nica screaming, and barges inside.
He finds a bloody Nica with a knife and surrounded by stuffing, but we can’t see Chucky. He sees Barb’s body on the first floor and he clearly has questions.
He points his gun at Nica.
Chucky sits serenely in the corner of the room, while there’s a voice over/transition into a court scene where Nica is found to be guilty and remanded to a facility for the criminally insane. Nica looks broken but unsurprised by this ruling.
As she’s wheeled past the evidence, she says to Chucky that she knows he’s alive, all with a big smile on her face.
Cut to Young Sober Cop in an underground parking lot carrying an evidence bag. He hops in a police cruiser and… I feel this is just going to be a replay of the opening of Bride, isn’t it? All the beats and shots look familiar.
He makes a call on his cellphone and leaves a voicemail saying he’s on his way, don’t forget the money.
He looks over at the evidence bag and is very disconcerted to see that the bag is moving in and out as Chucky breathes.
And from behind pops out Tiff–um–Jennifer Tilly’s body with Tiffany’s soul in. Um, Tiffifer? [JC: Jiffany?] Damn this is complicated. Anyway, yeah, just like Bride she slits his throat. She opens the bag and asks who’s next?
Cut to Tiffifer in the line at the post office. And yeah, if any of the movie so far lacked sass, this scene is oozing with it. The post office worker is dryly disinterested, and Tiffifer is full of lolzy charm and her mother’s folksy wisdom.
Cut to Alice getting home – goddamn, that completion anxiety joke came back, huh? How many endings does this thing have? – at her grandmother’s house. The TV is playing, but nobody replies when she calls out. There is a big Chucky-sized box on the counter. [JC: It’s probably just clothes.] And we get a jump scare with Chucky appearing behind her. She’s pretty happy to see him, despite the fact her parents are dead and Auntie Nica killed them. Chucky says it’s time to play hide the soul. Alice is the kind of person nobody would ever suspect. And he begins to chant. [JC: And is there a goddamn Heart of Damballa amulet anywhere in sight? Is there, Dove? Is there?!] [Dove: *cowers* … no?] [JC: . . . damn right.]
And it looks like he’s going to finally complete, which is pretty unique for this series.
We have a gentle pan back and goddamn, one final jump scare from the nearly-dead grandmother. FFS.
(Yeah, this isn’t on my copy of the movie. I had to hit up YouTube for it, so the quality is really poor.) [JC: And this is why I assumed you recapped from the rated version. My version has this scene, after credits like a goddamn Marvel movie. This movie really couldn’t pick one ending, could it?]
Six Months Later
A guy that is clearly Andy all grown up answers the door and accepts a Chucky-sized package. He makes small talk with the delivery person, and tosses the box on the counter, while he takes a call. He speaks to his mom and says he’ll definitely be coming over for his birthday tomorrow. In the foreground, Chucky cuts himself free from the box while Andy gazes out of the window and talks to his mom, thoroughly unconcerned. The camera pans around showing us something very fuzzy, that I can only assume is a graduation certificate (is that a thing) [JC: Yes, Dove. It’s his diploma. (The fuzzy lettering says “Diploma of Graduation” and frankly it’s fuzzy on the DVD. I can only imagine how bad it was on YouTube.) Presumably he graduated from the military school, which is wild considering what went down there, but okay, movie.] from Kent Military School.
A framed photo of Kyle. (KYLE, MOTHERFUCKERS. THE GREATEST CHARACTER EVER. Yay, they’re still friends. I’m so happy. I’m just going to ignore movie 3 and assume that eventually Karen pretended to be “fixed”, and got her kid back and took Kyle in (however briefly) and they’re all good friends.) There’s a picture of Andy and his mom from the first movie too. Loving the nostalgia here.
Chucky pops free – though now the box is flapped open, rather than has a hole cut in it from his knife – and he pointedly glares at the framed nostalgia pics.
Chucky turns and comes face-to-face with Andy’s gun. “Play with this,” Andy says, and shoots him point-blank.
To paraphrase someone in the comments of YouTube, Andy is so damned nonchalant about the whole thing, it makes you wonder if Chucky does this every few months. [JC: That is a hilarious idea, and I’m here for it 100%. Also, yay Alex Vincent! Nice to see you again!]
And damn, now I’m hopeful for the next one.
Damn, Fiona Dourif must’ve been cold throughout shooting. She was wearing a thin nightie the whole time and had bare feet.
Uh, that was great. That was a really good apology for Seed, which was just too far. Seed is kind of like Freddy’s Dead. Everyone was off their tits on the popularity of their product, and wondered how far they could push it, especially working on the assumption it’s the last one, and yeah, fucking car wreck. I will say Freddy’s Dead has rewatch value. Some bits are funny, even if they’re not meant to be. But both were followed by significantly better movies that went back to what made the original scary.
And this nailed it. And it was a really artistically shot movie too. There were so many reactions reflected in shiny knives or pools of blood, or just nice use of shadows to intensify the creep factor.
I’m sorry this recap was dead boring. I hate recapping something I enjoy. I just kind of recount what happened, and there’s nothing to bitch about. [JC: I feel ya, but I think our perspectives are skewed when judging our own work. I didn’t find your recap boring at all.]
And I am now going to retire the strangler count, because at this point, it’s so pointless. Nobody is getting strangled, and they’ve deliberately not used the “Lakeshore Strangler” moniker for ages.
[JC: I’m sad to see our kill counts end, especially after the lovely spreadsheet you designed last movie, but this is probably a fitting place to let that die out. I guess I have to stop beating the dead horse that is the Lakeshore Strangler now, huh? So, I love this movie. I think it’s my favorite after the original. Internet scores for it are kind of all over the place – 5.6 on IMDb; 76% Rotten Tomatoes; 58% Metacritic; 85% Google users. Incidentally, that averages out and rounds to 69%. Heh. So, my DVD has some deleted scenes on it, most aren’t that interesting, but one extends the flashback to show Chucky giving Nica’s dad a ride, and then it cuts directly to the funeral. So if we were wondering, the implication is definitely that Chucky killed Sarah’s husband, he didn’t just drown or whatever the story was.
Next up is Cult of Chucky, which I’ve only seen once and honestly I think I still may be processing. I’m always a little wary of anything that takes place in a psychiatric facility, and that’s pretty much the whole movie, and frankly I don’t remember how it’s handled or if I’ll want to explode at any point. So I’m a little trepidatious going into Cult, but still excited to rewatch and recap it. It won’t be worse than Seed, at the very least.]