“Chucky” is a Return to Form for the Series

The original Don Mancini 1988 horror film “Child’s Play” was both a slasher movie and a psychological thriller. We’re given an immense amount of exploration in to the mind of serial killer Charles Lee Ray, and we see him transfer his body in to the Good Guy doll. But when Andy is given the cursed doll, every time someone dies and the body count rises, there is the suspicion that perhaps Andy is committing the murders and Chucky is an outlet for his feelings of alienation. “Chucky” reaches back in to the original narrative and brilliantly adjusts it for a modern setting.

High Schooler and aspiring artist Jake discovers the titular Good Guy doll at a local garage sale in his home town and takes him home. Jake’s life is filled with pain and turmoil as he’s still grieving the death of his mother and is relentlessly tormented for his sexuality. Soon enough odd incidents begin to occur and Jake realizes that his vintage doll has a life of its own and might have its own nefarious purposes in store for the small town’s denizens.

“Chucky” is a great return to the roots of the series before it dove head first in to self satire and meta humor. Like Mancini’s original film, “Chucky” is dark, it’s suspenseful and damn Chucky is creepy again. Chucky (played yet again by the brilliant Brad Dourif) is basically the primary character of the series, but he’s more of a puppet master watching everything unfold. The genius of the puppetry is you can almost see the cogs turning in Chucky’s head as he has big, violent, gruesome plans for Jake’s enemies. And what make the situation worse is that Jake is stuck and under Chucky’s mercy. There’s a lot of set up on the first episode of “Chucky,” but thankfully the writing is able to build some great characters, and memorable moments.

The writers also fit a lot of the series’ backdrop to modern times, tackling themes of bullying, alcoholism, homophobia, and xenophobia. Where Andy seemed to be using Chucky to act out his feelings of isolation and neglect, Chucky acts as a vehicle for Jake’s repressed anger and pain. This time, though, we know better, and we can’t help but empathize for and pity Jake. The tension and terror are well measured along with some bang up direction that displays the inherent lunacy of the situation. One scene involving a school assembly is especially well orchestrated as Jake gets a full grasp of the sheer horror Chucky has in store.

Not to mention Chucky is elated at how easily the town will unravel at the slightest revelation of secrets. There hasn’t been much justification for Chucky’s sudden appearance yet, nor does there seem to be a lot of tying both “Curse” and “Cult” to this series. Especially considering Fiona Dourif plays an entirely new character here. That said, while there’s a lot of ground work to be made, “Chucky” seems to be the reboot that the film series desperately needed. Chucky is scary once again, and I can’t wait to see what havoc he unleashes.

Now airing on Syfy and the USA Network. Check Local Listings.