Monday, January 9, 2017

Seed of Chucky (2004) Review:

Very few horror franchises have been able to balance dark humor into their grizzly pictures. Of the most memorable, Freddy Krueger and Chucky were the main two to do it. Out of these two, Krueger was changed over time because producers realized how quotable Krueger had become with his one-liners. Chucky had somewhat of the same knack but creator Don Mancini had been apart of each production every step of the way. As much as a failure Child's Play 3 (1991) was critically and financially to most viewers, Bride of Chucky (1998) spun that table around with a divisive decision to make itself a self-aware horror comedy. Whether it was wanted or not, Don Mancini's choice to do that was rather ingenious. It was a ridiculous concept that fit a ridiculous horror icon in a good way. Chucky was still Chucky, except this time his wisecracks were funnier. This also didn't mean sacrificing story over comedy. So obviously with a better reception Mancini would continue in that direction for this entry. Problem is he took it a little too far.

"uhhh, what was our motivation again?"
Don Mancini takes full control of the production this time as writer and director. In some ways, this is a blessing and a curse. If you know how to do both really well then you're set. But if you don't, both tasks can be grueling. For Mancini, it seems like being writer/director was no problem. The issue was that he took the concept from the last film and cranked it up too much. Picking up somewhere after Bride of Chucky (1998), viewers are introduced to the offspring (Billy Boyd) of Jenn and Chucky. Wanting to find his parents, he travels to Hollywood to find his them on a studio set getting ready for a movie. The movie stars actress Jennifer Tilly. After bringing Chucky (Brad Dourif) and Jenn (Jennifer Tilly) to life, they decide that all three of them need to acquire new bodies. The people in mind were Jennifer Tilly, and a director named Redman (Redman). But to help their child, Chucky and Jenn need to inseminate Jennifer Tilly. All the while, their son is having trouble figuring out whether he's meant to hurt people or not.

Unfortunately that said, much of the writing here is incomplete. Right from the start there's a big question as to how Jenn and Chucky became movie celebrities. For the past four films all their murders were unconfirmed. Plus from Bride of Chucky (1998), who recovered Chucky and Jenn's bodies? If not, who made new ones? The continuity and explanations toward these questions remain unanswered. The story is meta now and no longer self-aware. Meta can be funny but here it gets too silly. For Bride of Chucky (1998), it was comedic to give a wink and nod but to fully make it obvious to the viewer that Redman and Britney Spears were in the same universe. Also having Jennifer Tilly play along side herself is odd too. Viewers really need to suspend their disbelief that the Jennifer Tilly from Bride of Chucky (1998) is a different person from that of here. Making that clear, the comedy is a hit and miss. There are a number of scenes that are funny and others not so much. Also Chucky and Jenn's son has an underdeveloped arc.

Also character motivations randomly flip throughout the story. This doesn't mix well because it feels out of character in some cases. But even with all these problems, the film proves that it isn't terrible. All the visual and audible aspects to the film work tremendously too its advantage. All actors from Brad Dourif, Jennifer Tilly, Billy Boyd, Redman and Hannah Spearritt all act passably. Of the bunch Dourif and Tilly are the best. Brad Dourif still knows how to get the best laugh. Jennifer Tilly still knows how to sound sultry, even through a doll. Billy Boyd is best known for playing Pippin from The Lord of the Rings franchise and Hannah Spearritt is from the S Club series. Boyd as the child of Chucky and Jenn plays it up on both sides. Sometimes Boyd plays it soft spoken while other times he can be deranged and unstable. The practical/special effects look great, especially the doll animatronics. The facial movements look legitimate and lifelike; it's impressive.

Redman & Jennifer Tilly
The gore is also handled well. Very little of the violence is CGI and that's good because it's more believable. Since the concept has spiked in it's ludacrosity, the violence has done so too, which is fine. The cinematography by Vernon Layton is acceptable as well. Best known for working on Under Suspicion (1991), High School High (1996) and I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998), Layton shows he can shoot a scene with a good-looking perspective. The music by Italian composer Pino Donaggio is another interesting pick. Donaggio's composition to this entry switches between synths and regular orchestra. The synth cues are more drawn out, while the orchestra sections involve the usual horror strings. There's also a main theme for this entry, which is nice. However the franchise should stick with one and call it a day. Donaggio's also known for his music to Piranha (1978), Carrie (1976), Tourist Trap (1979), The Howling (1981) and Body Double (1984). It's the weakest of the series but still not awful.

The writing unfortunately is quite messy in its storytelling even though writer/director Don Mancini knew what he had in mind. The music, cinematography, effects and actors all do their job respectively. It's just that they're restricted by a confusing entry.

Points Earned --> 5:10

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