How can this be so entertaining? I know I’m not alone in still finding Chucky, of course voiced by the iconic Brad Dourif, amusing as ever–even into his fifth decade of existence. What is it about this foul-mouthed killer doll that has such staying power?
Based on “Death By Misadventure,” the premiere episode of SyFy’s Chucky, there’s simply a certain level of timelessness to this little bastard. Whether a brand new doll in 1988 with a cartoon, a cereal, and all kinds of other things to plaster his face on for a dollar or a retro collector’s item in 2021 there’s such ease in dropping him into whatever new situation and watching him kill his way around. The fact that this has some very solid production values definitely doesn’t hurt, either.
This latest go-round jumps right in with 14 year old Jake Wheeler (Zackary Arthur) buying Chucky at a yard sale (for what turns out to be quite a steal, based on what Good Guy dolls are going for when he googles it later on). Jake’s not exactly looking for a playmate, though. He’s an artistic loner in need of many doll parts for his strange works and Chucky catches his eye.
After meeting Jake’s miserable, alcoholic, and abusive father (Devon Sawa) as well as his uncle (also Devon Sawa), aunt (Lexa Doig), and dickhead cousin (Teo Briones) I don’t think it’s difficult to understand why he’s more interested in solitary art expression than family dinners. Several kids at school also seem to make it their mission in life to be needlessly antagonistic towards Jake and everything he does. He gets grief from his horrible dad for being gay & artistic, while kids at school lambaste him for having the gall to come from a financially unstable home and not kowtow to their social norms.
I’m pleased how such a serialised film series pivots into the TV world without missing a beat. If you already know of all the craziness that’s gone on in the movies then you know what you’re in for and even if you’ve never seen a Child’s Play movie before, it’s actually not that complicated–Chucky, a killer doll, will kill people (several of whom already deserve a knife to the face).
For instance, there’s a mysterious phone call Jake receives at one point and if this is all new to you it’s simply a strange moment that will likely come up again later. If you’re well-versed on Child’s Play lore, though, you might think of Andy Barclay and wonder just what madness is in store for us soon…
For the most part, Chucky’s premiere episode is simply about Jake realizing Chucky isn’t like other dolls as Chucky notices how Jake isn’t like other boys–except, of course, with a healthy amount of vulgarity, creepiness, dark humor, and killings. Nothing’s gory so far, but based on the amount of profanity that’s apparently allowed on TV now (unbleeped f*cks & a f*g jump to mind) I’d wager some blood-soaked hijinks can’t be too far off.
As for Chucky himself, considering Brad Dourif & Don Mancini are still the guys bringing him to life after all these years it’s no surprise he’s the same blood-thirsty & sardonic madman we’ve come to love. I’m looking forward to where Jake & Chucky’s companionship goes over the course of the season.
I’ll also say I’m happy to have a gay lead who isn’t closeted and doesn’t appear to be wrestling with his gayness. He’s got several issues, no doubt, but the fact he’s gay doesn’t seem to be the source of his pain. In fact, the crush he has on a fellow student seems to be the one thing that inspires zest for life. Zackary Arthur actually does quite well in his portrayal of a young man just trying to be himself. He doesn’t have a support system of any kind, unfortunately, which Chucky certainly notices and now Jake’s going to have to learn some life lessons the hard way.
Pet peeve–why even put a pet in here only to kill it after a couple scenes? If the pet cat was left out of this whole scenario nothing would be lost. It just seems so predictable that any dog/cat/pet in a horror movie (or show) is completely doomed and I genuinely don’t see the added value element. I think it would have been a more amusing change of pace if the cat stuck around and had no problem with Chucky–maybe they even liked each other a bit. Oh well.
So, after seven movies (eight if you count the 2019 reboot, but you shouldn’t as it’s a completely separate beast) spread over several decades there’s still life in the little monster known as Chucky, somehow, and I couldn’t be more pleased. Actually, “somehow” isn’t accurate–it’s very much so thanks to Don Mancini. Mancini has written all seven films, directed the last three, and can now also add TV show creator/showrunner to his extensive Child’s Play resume.
Obviously there’s something about this murderous doll we all can’t quit, so I’ll see you soon for Chucky‘s second episode when more bodies hit the floor. In the mean time, if you haven’t seen it yet give the entire first episode a watch below!
Adem lives with his husband, dog(s), & cat(s) in an Arizonian city where any time not spent with/on the previously mentioned creatures is filled with writing, rowing, baking, and whatever else the day brings.