Review: Seed of Chucky

Posted by: Mark McLeod  //  November 12, 2004 @ 11:59am

Filed under: Movie Reviews 

As someone who sees upwards of 200 movies a year, I begin to discover that there are a few warning signs as to when a studio might know they have a turkey on their hands " a film they've spent money on that is just so bad that they want to hide it from the press and pray that the audience comes out in the first couple of days so that they don't lose too much money. To a critic, there is no clearer sign than what we refer to as the dreaded Thursday night screening. You see, by screening your film at 7pm on a Thursday night, you effectively make it impossible for reviews to appear in the major newspapers the next morning. Sure, some studios do their promotional screenings for radio contest winners on Thursday nights, but in many cases they have already showed critics the film at an earlier date. So what happens when the only screening is Thursday night? Well, it does stop the newspaper people, but with the internet, I can still bang out a review and stick it up for opening morning. It doesn't happen that often because I don't like to rush home and work all night to cover a film, but if I wanted to, I could easily post it when I got home. What does all of this have to do with Seed of Chucky you might ask? Well, the film had its lone screening just hours before its commercial release, and on top of that, I heard of a number of American screenings that were cancelled at the last minute by Rogue Pictures, the boutique genre arm of Focus Features, which of course is the arthouse/independent arm of Universal, who released the last Chucky film in 1998 with Bride of Chucky. Last minute cancelled screenings, plus only Thursday night screenings in markets that weren't dropped? That doesn't bode well for the latest entry in this horror series.

In the last installment of the Chucky franchise, everyone's favorite homicidal maniac doll Chuckie Ray (voice of Brad Dourif) found true love in the form of Tiffany (voice of Jennifer Tilly), another doll who shared his passion for killing people when they least expect it. Then, she became pregnant and gave birth to a young doll. Seed of Chucky picks up the story some six years later, when a little girl gets a doll named Glen (voice of Billy Boyd) for Christmas that just so happens to be the long lost orphan of Chucky and Tiffany. After a few killings, Glen decides to head to Hollywood when he learns production is beginning on a movie based on his famous parents. Upon his arrival, he brings his parents back from the dead and while the family dynamics are less than perfect, he is happy to have them back. Chucky has missed his life of crime and with his son by his side, immediately takes care of a sleazy paparazzi member. Tiffany on the other hand has delusions of grandeur, getting into the movies, and meeting her idol Jennifer Tilly, who just so happens to be starring in the movie about her life. Jennifer Tilly on the other hand is trying to further her career by taking a meeting with rapper-turned-director Redman, who is none too interested in casting her in his upcoming bible epic. The problem is Redman needs convincing, and Tilly is stuck doing everything she can to win over the hip-hopper. Meanwhile, Chucky and Tiffany begin to have arguments over the future and Tiffany's quest to become human leads to some interesting and challenging questions. All the while, the murderous couple decide they are unsatisfied with their current offspring and want to have a more perfect youngster. Their goal is to impregnate Jennifer Tilly and have her carry the baby (or in this case doll) to fruition while still maintaining their murderous impulses.

Seed of Chucky is the fifth film in the Chucky franchise, which started all the way back in the late 80s with Child's Play. Series creator and therefore mastermind Don Mancini, who's penned each of the four previous installments, is given the chore of directing this film, and his inexperience shows through in just about every frame of this preposterously bad and disturbing piece of cinematic garbage. Where does one begin to describe the many elements that made this film the longest 90 minute motion picture of the year? Let's see... The film isn't scary, the murders aren't original or fresh, and the humour of the gross-out variety " which is aimed at the lowest common denominator " is nauseating. Those who found Team America offensive will have a field day with dolls pissing themselves constantly, a scene where Tiffany tries to impregnate Jennifer Tilly using a turkey baster, and a sexually confused Glen (or Glenda) voiced by hobbit Billy Boyd that just looks downright freaky. As a satire of the Hollywood motion picture system, the film fails on all accounts, as the few in-jokes like casting John Waters as a sleazy photographer and Jennifer Tilly making fun of her bad-girl B-movie image fail to carry much if any weight. The same can be said for the film's best joke, which has now been overused in the film's marketing campaign where Chucky blows up a Britney Spears look-alike before spouting the name of one of her biggest hits. Screenplay- and story-wise, the film is a mess as it jumps around a lot and there are too many subplots that go nowhere and distract from the already convoluted and downright pathetic main story. Mancini also doesn't really know how to balance the so-called scares and the even more so-called comedy making for a resulting picture that doesn't know what it wants to be. I wasn't scared and I wasn't laughing, and with those being the two goals of this picture, you know what that means.

Horror films aren't known for their strong Oscar calibre performances. In fact in general, horror films contain some pretty laughable performances, but that comes with the genre. Seed of Chucky on the other hand brings new meaning to the word awful, as everyone in this film is just that. Jennifer Tilly is saddled with two roles, one a likeable talking doll that just so happens to kill people, and the other an exaggerated version of herself. Tilly, who was great in Bound and was enjoyable in the last Chucky installment, needs a lot of help here. Sure, she is sending up her own image, but despite the lampooned version of herself she plays, she should look at it closely. Her career hasn't been going anywhere lately with roles in Haunted Mansion and this film as prime examples. Perhaps she should re-evaluate her acting decisions before she finds herself appearing solely in B-movie-type schlock like this. Brad Dourif voices Chucky yet again, and generally gives as good a performance as one can expect from a talking doll. I like the Chucky character and the doll, so despite his almost limited and corny dialogue, at least when he was on the screen the film was a tad more tolerable. Billy Boyd makes his post-hobbit film as a gender confused doll. Hmm... that's a good way to live down the feminine image he achieved in Lord of the Rings. Former "S Club 7" member Hannah Sperritt, who also appeared in Agent Cody Banks 2, is the only one who shows acting ability as Ms Tilly's personal assistant. Too bad she's not smart enough to know a bad project when she sees it, as this marks two turkeys in a row. Redman plays Redman, so there's no real surprise there. If anything, this is a toned down version of his true to life persona. Suffice to say no one involved with this film is going to win any acting prizes. In fact, I for one hope that they use some of their paycheck to take some acting classes before signing on for their next roles.

To put it bluntly, Seed of Chucky is a terrible piece of motion picture filmmaking that isn't worth the film stock it's printed on. It's not funny, scary, or even remotely interesting. Sure, there are gallons upon gallons of fake blood and one or two decent jokes, but the remaining 89 minutes and 45 seconds are so unbearable that my friend and I looked at one another as to ask why we were still sitting in our seats. It's not often that I consider walking out on a film, but this is one of those rare instances where I came close. If not for the long journey out to the theatre and the fact that I was secretly holding out hope that something was going to salvage it from being a complete trainwreck, I would have walked, and boy did I as soon as the credits hit the screen. During my usual interesting and informative post screening discussion, neither I nor my companion and colleague could find anything remotely positive to say about the film. It's not that I was expecting greatness, I just wanted something watchable. Next time, I'm going to give heed to her warning and remember that just because I can see a movie for free doesn't mean that it's the best use of my time. All the warning signs were present and I missed them. Luckily, for those of you reading this, you hopefully haven't and can stay far, far away from this dreadful excuse of a movie.

Mark McLeod has always loved film. In addition to his roles with ShowbizMonkeys.com, Mark also works on many film promotion projects in Vancouver, BC, through his company, Mark McLeod PR.

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