Written and directed by Don Mancini, Seed of Chucky is a film that manages to retain sense of humor and is yet still creepy enough while later, manages to have us laughing. It is, if nothing, unexpected, by turns light and dark, spoof and not, horror flick yet not, and not in the least bit expected.
The beginning stage and opening of the film are spooky enough that I still don’t want to go down the stairs to the bathroom at night all by myself, lest there be a murderous something or other lurking about. I still don’t like it when the lights go out and I really don’t like dolls or what should be inanimate objects because they just might move and that would suck.
The film opens with a little English girl getting what she considers to be an ugly doll for her birthday, no note or card attached. Calling the doll ugly is the young girl’s first mistake; leaving it alone, her second because the minute the family turn their backs and go to bed, leaving the knife still in the birthday cake, who should wake up but you-know-who, always ready to exact his revenge. Oh sure, he’s evil anyway, but give him any reason and he’ll take it. This is Chucky – what did you expect?
That the setting of the house is somewhat Gothic in style with high arched windows and other such detailing that only adds to the spookiness of the setting. Yes, it’s a gorgeous house and under any normal circumstance I just might want to buy it, but not this time. It just goes to show how well film can take even the most desirable and beautiful thing and turn it into a thing that is both spooky and weird and let’s face it, a place you wouldn’t be caught dead in, unless you were caught dead in.
Chucky sets about wiping out various family members with that nasty and ever-present sharp knife, knocking off family members and finding, of course, the mandatory nude woman in the shower who will invariably die.
There’s just something about showers and being nude and soap in your eyes and that two seconds when you cannot see and you wonder for a slip second whether or not the knife will come down and get YOU because it always does in films. The whole scene, and others in the film, give plenty of nods to Psycho, down to exacting detail (victim falls out of shower entwined in clear shower curtain, the blood swirling down the drain ). Another scene will show Chucky’s spawn (Glenda or Glen, depending on who you ask, mum or dad, who have an ongoing argument about the sex of their child), but G., let’s say, who will not “even hurt a fly” that lands on him, another nod to Psycho and to our old friend Norman Bates.
The nods are less than subtle but they work and seem fitting to the film; and there is nothing wrong with a nod to the greatest horror film of all time, perhaps.
Suffice to say that this film is like a gaggle of Russian nesting dolls, a film inside a film inside a film inside a film.
To find his parents, G. must first escape from his day job as Shitface in the “Psychs and Shitface” show, a soft of tented Punch and Judy show, only far freakier and with a sadistic British boss who is hell bent on hurting little Shitface. Psychs tells a crowd of rather ugly onlookers – a sort of carnival crowd – that he found his sidekick little Shitface in an American cemetery. So we have Shitface, spawn of Chucky and wife, who is an orphan, a freak, and of course, he knows he’s Japanese he tells us, because it is printed on his body quite clearly, “Made in Japan.”
There are lots of scenes that seem real, only to develop into the unreal or another film within a film. Everything revolves around the filming of a film, starring who else but Jennifer Tilly, in “Chucky Goes Psycho” – a film about a series of unsolved murders committed by a serial killer or killers. We never really get to see Tilly in this film, but that’s not the point because we get to see her in the film surrounding the film, if you know what I mean.
It’s a cool device, lulling the viewer into a false sense of security, believing that the horror scenes are merely “fictional” or meta-fictional as the case may be, since we know they aren’t real to begin with. Generally, a horror film works, scares us, by slowly drawing us in and making sure we “believe” or buy into the story. Chucky sort of does the opposite: just as you are buying into one story, another plotline is introduced. The only consistent thing in the film is Jennifer Tilly herself, who has a starring role in every film within the film and is, to put it succinctly, the star of the film. Did you get that?
The plot in the plot: Jennifer Tilly plays an actress (an actress playing an actress, who keeps coming in maddeningly close second for roles to Julia Roberts, who, it goes without saying, would likely not be caught even dead in this film, which makes the reference all the more comedic.)
Tilly is excellent in her role as “the actress” in the film within the film and is not only herself, of course, but stars as the voice for Chucky’s wife. More, she is dressed to look like Bride of Chucky, who in fact, sees Jennifer Tilly and looks up to her:
Yes, this is still a horror film in some ways though and Tilly will have her share of surprises to deal with, though we do not want this review to be a spoiler to suffice to say they are there and that those scenes are not for the squeamish and are acted by Tilly extremely well. Yes, some of the more graphic scenes are a bit disturbing even if intended as tongue in cheek, some are graphic enough so as to be convincing.
Tilly is buxom, beautiful and really, just Rubenesque and lovely to look at with her milky skin and glossy dark hair. It’s great to see a female lead who is not the Hollywood requisite size two and more, one who has such a great sense of humor about herself, though really, she need not find anything funny since she is quite lovely. Still, Tilly’s self-effacing jokes lend an element of humility to the character that is quite charming. Her sense of humor about herself (that one can only guess carries over to her off-screen life) is exemplified in such scenes as having her assistant spend her days writing fake fan letters all addressed to “Jennifer Tilly” and all signed “Your Number One Fan xo xo xo” as part of some effort to make Tilly feel that she is a bigger star than she actually is ~ all in days’ work, right?
That Tilly just takes all this in stride and would even take on a role with such scenes is really to her credit and proves that she has a wicked sense of humor about herself and the roles she is willing to play. She even plays the role here of an actress who is willing to “sleep her way to the top” and in doing so, winds up pregnant (an immaculate conception, for there was no sex at all and the producer, it turns out, has had a vascectomy ~ could this be a nod to the other Tilly – Meg – and her role as the immaculately pregnant nun in < b>Agnes of God?. This Tilly handles both her role as actress and her role in this film playing an actress with grace, poise and style, and her relationship with Mrs. Chucky is symbiotic and humorous.
The animation is excellent… far better than any of the preceding Chucky films, with in particular the doll’s eyes seeming otherwordly yet incredibly expressive and lifelike at the same time. As each film has gone along, as with anything, the skill and technique have vastly improved and little G. is especially well-done with expressive and large blue eyes and a working class British accent and other personality quirks (peeing himself, an eye twitch etc. ) that make him/her both lovable and believable (if one can love such a gruesome character). But that’s what is clever about this film: you don’t hate these dolls anymore; they are human in some ways with a family dynamic that is all their own.
Mom and Dad are equally well-done, expressive; however and whoever worked on the eyes for these characters deserves a raise, because they really make each of the characters and without the eyes, they wouldn’t be half as expressive or believable.
Footage of Martha Stewart’s courtroom exit is used and appears on TV in the film. Apparently, she is being “executed this morning” according to Mrs. Chucky.
As in TV time, Tilly’s pregnancy is accelerated – another in joke at the pacing of television and film in general. Tilly goes to bed flat bellied and wakes up at with an eight or nine months pregnant.
There are plenty of subplots and twists to keep any film buff interested; there is Glen or Glenda sexual identify crisis that needs to be resolved. Will the spawn be a girl or a boy – you’ll have to watch to find out and follow that interesting little line, and I must say, weird as this may sound, it is played out with sensitivity even though they are a family of dolls who are psycho killers (something about which they quibble as well – often feeling guilty about killing and whether or not they should continue it).
Tilly’s pregnancy and delivery is another subplot and the interweaving of genuine human characters and the doll character actors is pretty seamless.
On the whole, the film is not scary, but so what. Does that really matter, when at the end of the day, what we are looking for most is to be entertained. Nobody said the form of our entertainment had to be high-brow. It is bawdy, earthy, goofy and fun and in all honesty, a little light in a film that I had expected to be dark and scary was most welcome. To sum up:
“I am chucky, the killer doll and I dig it!”
If only the rest of us could be as comfortable with ourselves as these murderous yet oddly likable dolls.