Seed of Chucky
Painfully forced self referential neo-slasher.
Amidst the slings and arrows of outrageous teen orientated horror films we've been forced to take up arms against lay one glimmering hope in the perhaps unlikely form of Seed of Chucky. Ronny Yu directed a minor miracle in Bride of Chucky, going on to reinforce his status as the only person with a clue how to really produce an enjoyable post-modern slasher film in Freddy vs. Jason. For some reason I thought he was still attached to Seed, but it's actually series creator Don Mancini returning in to the director's chair. Which is unfortunate.
Seed of Chucky is, even by modern horror's low standards, a very silly film. While 'subtle' isn't a word that ought to be used anywhere near Bride, it at least knew how to play it's self-referential lines without seeming as though they've been shoehorned in as a vain attempt at being 'cool'. Not that Bride was precisely a surgical strike of irony, Seed is most certainly a blow to the face with a twenty pound lump-hammer of pure sarcasm. However, I'm rather getting ahead of myself, aren't I?
The hellish child issued from Jennifer Tilly's puppet alter ego has grown into a confused young ventriloquist's dummy in England performing under the name of Shitface (voiced by ex-hobbit Billy Boyd). If you want explanations for how a plastic doll can grow you might want to wander off and have a packet of Refreshers instead, this film and hence review clearly won't be of much use to you. Believing himself to be orphaned, he's delighted to see his inanimate parents appearing in a Hollywood production. With Jennifer Tilly starring, naturally.
Heading off to find and bring his parents back to their unnatural lives, he finds his parents somewhat different to how he imagined them. They aren't ninja assassins for one thing, an understandable confusing arising from the newly renamed Glen's 'Made in Japan' birthmark. While both Chucky (voice by the returning, always value for money Brad Dourif) and Tiffany (voiced by Tilly) decide to combat their addiction to killing, they're also trying to transpose themselves into the bodies of Tilly and Redman (himself). Tilly's trying to get a role as the Virgin Mary in a biblical epic Redman is knocking out by using her not inconsiderable charms, which requires an equally not inconsiderable bra to restrain them.
And so on, and so forth. The actual plot is so grossly contrived to enable a few set piece, highly amusing murders that it feels as though it was created as an afterthought. Oddly, there's more character development of three plastic dolls that most conventional, human starring horrors could dream of. Given as Glen isn't anatomically correct, he's having doubts about his sexuality and trying out life as Glenda. Chucky's wondering why he has to return to a human host anyway, and Tiffany's rightly doubting that a homicidal doll makes a good father figure. If Mancini had given us more of these elements rather that bludgeon us with the film references, he'd probably have had a lot more success.
Much of what occurs, and certainly the vast bulk of the first, Tilly-centric act is so teeth-grindingly self-referential as to take all of the fun out of proceedings. It just screams 'we are making a film about a film nudge nudge wink wink' in the same grotesque, predicable, played out, painful manner that served Wes Craven pishfest Scream so poorly clocking on for a decade ago. It's not big, it's not clever and no-one's laughing with you.
It's not all bad news. While it's not the acme of observational comedy, at least Tilly shows a commendable self-effacement to play games with her own image and reputation. While the murders the dolls execute aren't exactly, or indeed remotely, scary they possess such a joyful lunacy in their almost Mortal Kombat Fatality-esque extremity that it's difficult not to chortle at them. For a fifteen rated film, they're surprisingly graphic. I suppose the emphasis on laughs rather than frights means they escape the censor's wrath. Brad Dourif's had plenty of practice in the Chucky role by this point and he certainly knows how to nail his lines. We'll pretend Redman wasn't present, which is easily done given how ineffectual he proves.
You have to feel for little Billy Boyd. One minute he's surfing the waves caused by the biggest, bestest, most trilogiest trilogy in the history of cinema. The next, he's crashed onto shore voicing a doll that looks like a Ziggy-Stardust era Bowie and sounds like Dickens' Oliver. Ah well. From a shaky start his screwed up character does grow somewhat more likeable, so fair play to the lad. Not his fault the script isn't up to snuff.
The tangents taken in Seed work so much better than the actual plot driving elements that it's something of a minor tragedy that overall, it's a bit bap. If it just didn't seem so painfully forced early on in proceedings there's a chance this would have been as enjoyable as Yu's effort. It's not, and we're quite genuinely sad to report that. Another hope dashed. Roll on Episode III to crush our spirits completely.
An aside that just occurs to me - despite the lacklustre nature of Seed of Chucky, it's probably the best horror film out so far this year. Jeepers.
Were I in the business of passing quantifiable judgements, I'd award this 2/5 TippyMarks.
Billy Boyd (Glen/Glenda)
Brad Dourif (Chucky)
Hannah Spearritt (Joan)
John Waters (Pete Peters)