Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer
After a brutal battle for ownership and creative control the man behind the iconic killer doll, Don Mancini, is behind the wheel again as writer, director and producer. And this time he went the unexpected route and brought Chucky of Child’s Play fame to the small screen. Fitting consider his size right?
All kidding aside, I have no idea how well this is going to work in the long run but with three episodes out I decided to take a look at this USA Network/Syfy show about the red-headed menace with the potty mouth and an affinity for large kitchen knives. With a bloody SPOILER ALERT here’s my breakdown of episodes one to three of Chucky.
Episode 1: Death by Misadventure
Jake Wheeler is a 14 year old with a penchant for sculpting art with dolls. He (un)luckily comes across the rare find of a Good Guy doll at a garage sale. He takes it home to take it apart and add it to his sculpture when he’s interrupted by his dad (Devon Sawa of Idle Hands and Final Destination), a hard-drinking blue collar worker who is struggling with the fact Jake is gay. When Jake realises Chucky is valuable he decides to sell him online. Andy Barclay (Child’s Play Parts 1 -3/Cult of Chucky) contacts him and warns him to check Chucky’s batteries.
Chucky reveals himself to Jake and because Jake took him to school with him, he knows everything about Jake’s troubles with his cousin Junior, rich girl bully and the bane of Jake’s existence Lexy, and local true crime podcaster and Jake’s secret crush Devon. Chucky wastes no time in getting his murder boner on and all of this is just the beginning of the nightmare Jake finds himself in as Chucky a.k.a. Charles Lee Ray (or is that the other way around?) decides to show Jake how fun killing his enemies could be.
First off Chuck looks great. The design of the killer doll has changed a bit from movie to movie and for me my favourite will always be the first. He’s a bit of a mash-up between the first film and the most recent, Cult of Chucky, and I think it looks great. Of course we couldn’t have a proper Chucky series without the iconic voice of Brad Dourif involved, and I enjoyed how his take on this version of Chuck seems a bit more in control and, for want of a better word, intelligent. The characters here are your basic group of teens but Zackary Arthur as poor Jake does a solid job with his role; he’s a kid on the edge, broken by loss and struggling to fit in. With an unexpected death and a standout Chucky moment where he pretends to be a ventriloquist dummy, we’re off to a strong start with episode one.
Episode 1 Score: 7 out of 10
Episode 2: Give Me Something Good to Eat
We start with a flashback to the 60s where a young Charles Lee Ray finds a razor in an apple after trick-or-treating yet still eats it. Coming back to the present Jake returns to school after suffering a tragedy and is invited to a Halloween party by a boy named Oliver. Chucky kills another unlucky victim but swears to Jake he didn’t do it. He also tries to connect with him by mentioning he has a genderfluid child (Glen/Glenda from Seed of Chucky) that he accepts and once again reminds Jake Lexy deserves to die. Jake decides to show up at the Halloween party to ensure Chucky doesn’t do anything…stabby. He ends up seeing Lexy make fun of his tragedy but still protects her after Chucky, who had been spending time playing video games with Lexy’s little sister, still tries to kill her. When they return home Jake and Chucky have a heart to heart where the Good Guy seemingly convinces the young man murder is the answer to all his troubles.
This episode was a bit weaker than the pilot as we spent more time getting to know more of the side characters like Jake’s cousin Junior, the antagonistic Lexy and nice guy wannabe detective Devon. All of the young cast play their roles well but the only other true standout at this point is Alyvia Alyn Lind as Lexy. She’s diabolical and cruel and skirts the line of being the spoilt rich kid by having these spurts of vulnerability and actually caring about her little sister. She’s the kind of character you’ll want to see dead one minute and alive the next.
We do get a doozy of a kill early on in this episode and a scene with a razor in an apple that will make you squirm, but we also get the obvious little person in a suit walking the streets and moments such as these tend to pull you out of the story. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud when they happened and I know it’s due to budget constraints but still, they are obvious as hell. Not bad, but episode two was more filler than I needed.
Episode 2 Score: 5.5 out of 10
Episode 3: I Like to Be Hugged
After convincing Jake to kill Lexy for her antics at the Halloween party we once again flashback to Charles’ childhood. As Chucky narrates what makes a good killer we see scenes of his birthday where he gleefully smashes a piñata and slices into birthday cake with a creepy smile on his little face. Back in the present Jakes’ teacher tells his aunt, uncle and Lexy’s parents about what she did while Junior, who knows there’s something off about his cousin, tries to convince her to apologise. Lexy initially refuses but after her little sister throws a tantrum and screams “I WANT CHUCKY!” she offers a half-hearted one to Jake in the hopes he will give her Chucky. Jake initially refuses but after having a discussion with the pint-sized killer they decide it would be the easiest way to get to Lexy.
We get another look back into Chucky’s past as murderous events unfold in the present and in the words of Charles Lee Ray, “Some killers are made, but the best ones are born”. Where episode two took its foot off the gas, this one stomped down to the floorboard and takes the brutality and tension up to a hundred. I was wondering what else they could bring to the Child’s Play franchise and I have to say I’m pleasantly surprised by the addition of more backstory on Charles Lee Ray. Over the course of seven films (eight if you include the remake, although Mancini wouldn’t) we only get a handful of info on what made Ray the monster he is/was, and the series give us time and space to do that. I’m also shocked (in a good way) as to the level of profanity and violence in this series. It’s the USA name that gave me pause but they pulled out all the stops and fans of the movies really can’t complain as they really have embraced that R rating.
Episode 3 Score: 7 out of 10
So it’s always hard to tell how these things will unfold with time. We might have one of the best horror series based on a movie character since Ash vs Evil Dead, or Chucky might wither away as a bad memory. For now though these three episodes have been good enough to keep me invested.
And while I don’t see something like this running for more than a season or two (is Chucky still a doll or has that shipped sailed? I might need to rewatch Cult to make sure) as of right now, I’ll be tuning in to see how much damage a four-foot tall doll with a crazy laugh and a town of innocent victims can do.
And you can check out more great horror TV series content below:
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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