7 Shades of Chucky

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Fast encroaching 40 years since our favourite serial killer trapped inside a Good Guy doll, Chucky first graced our screens, delighting and menacing in his own twisted and macabre way.

Since then, Chucky has spawned 6 sequels and numerous comic books and has in some circles say shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Jason, Freddy, and Michael.

But how has the fiendish doll faired over the years?

This surgeon delves onto the guts of the Chucky franchise to see if he really does hold weight.

 

  1. Child’s Play (1988)
    Aka – The original

You can’t go too far wrong from the movie that started it all.

Part of the appeal of the Chucky movies has been the voice performed by the brilliant Brad Dourif. I’m a firm believer that this has been a core element to the films success.

Played with a much more straight-laced approach, which works of be hard to pull off seeing as convict serial killer on the run, Charles Lee Ray is shot and “killed” during a pursuit, but not before transferring his soul into a doll by a voodoo technique.

Said doll, Chucky, then takes up residence at 6 year old Andy’s house as he starts using his Killing ways once more.

With great support from Chris Sarandon as the homicide detective, Directed by Tom Holland at probably the height of his career following Psycho 2 and Fright Night, and would craft Child’s Play into an instant classic, so it’s of no surprise that more instalments would follow.

  1. Child’s Play 2 (1990)
    Aka – The resurrection

Don Mancini would return to scribe the sequel to Child’s Play, as he would with all subsequent movies.
Andy Barclay would once more fall victim to Chucky’s antics when Charles Lee Ray inhabits another Good Guy Doll after a freak electrical storm.

Strangely, growing up, this sequel and its predecessor would merge as on in my mind, which is a testament to the writing and performances that were delivered in the same strong vein.

It felt like this franchise was in safe hands for sure.

  1. Child’s Play 3 (1991)
    Aka – The one with Jimmy Olsen

 The third instalment would see a now teenage Alex Vincent) played by Justin Whalin, who would go on to star in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman) once again pursued by Chucky.

Unfortunately, it is at this point in the juncture that it feels like the wheels might be falling off this franchise.

Some might blame the directing, but jack Bender has gone on to produce some stellar work, most notably for the Game of Thrones episode, The Door, which he recognised for.

It has to come down to the writing, which had grown stale and as such, Chucky had fallen under the curse of the final act of a trilogy.
Thankfully there’d be more to come with…
Bride of Chucky (1998)
Aka – The one where Chucky meets Tiffany

Most followers of the Chucky franchise will point out the notable change in style to the movies from this point on with the introduction of humour, something that has kept the heart beating in what could have been a long drawn out series of films.
As such this inclusion of self-referential parody was a much-needed recipe and by having the freedom to laugh at the madness and mayhem that Chucky delivers, we the audience are invited in on the joke, and feel more relaxed as a consequence.

It helps that there is also the addition of a feminie touch as Tiffany played by Jennifer Tilly in a role that she appears to relish, chewing up the scenery with every frame that she is in.

Even bringing back Graeme Revell to score the music as he had done in Child’s Play 2, helps lift this movie above the ‘norm’.


Seed of Chucky (2004)
Aka – The twisted one

If anyone wanted to see how Don Mancini would work another film out of the Chucky universe with his own creative flair, then Seed of Chucky would be your answer as he would not only write but also direct this instalment.

The result is a warped insight into Mancini’s’ mind as we’re taken on a journey of Chucky and Tiffany’s offspring, Glen, reluctant in continuing in his parent’s footsteps.
There are twins, more Jennifer Tilly, artificial insemination, a masturbating Chucky, John Waters, and dismemberment.

All of which add to the sheer bat-shit craziness that this film delivers.

Curse of Chucky (2013)
Aka – The return to form

Don’t be fooled by this film’s straight-to-video appearance.

Having cut his teeth on its predecessor, Seed of Chucky, Mancini really comes to his own in building a whole new playing field for Chucky to continue his bloodlust.

The franchise introduces us to paraplegic Nica (played by Dourif’s daughter, Fiona) who unwittingly becomes the ‘fall guy’ for Chucky’s latest killing spree.

The story catapults us along using more soul transferals, which allows Chucky to continue killing without ever being suspected. It seems as though he has the perfect solution to carrying out his evil ways and in doing so, carves a whole new storyline for the franchise to effectively continue. That is until he’s delivered back to his original owner, Andy to put an end to things once and for all.

Cult of Chucky (2017)
Aka – The one that cements as a franchise to be reckoned with

By the seventh instalment of any franchise, you’d think that all the tricks could be pulled have already been witnessed, bit somehow, Cult of Chucky is able to keep up the ante and deliver the gore and humour with absolute glee.

Sure it comes across as ropey in places and you can feel the smaller budget that is on display as we find ourselves in a mental institute for Chucky’s latest outpouring of murder and mayhem.

The story continues with Nica (Fiona Dourif reprising her role) trying to come to terms with the notion that she was responsible for the murders from the previous movie.

That is until Chucky surfaces again and in doing so, we’re treated to some fine tongue-in-cheek humour and some pretty cool death scenes.

Jennifer Tilly returns once more and if anything this film feels like it has perfectly blended all that has gone before and served up a film that delights and ticks so many boxes that it is beyond glorious.

Whilst the movie did end on a note that appeared to round things out, judging by Mancini’s comments on recent interviews, there’s still life in the old doll yet. Perhaps even a trip into space. Hell they all go into space eventually.

On things for certain, it’ll be interesting to see where and how they go to next.

– Paul Farrell

 

 

Gerald’s Game

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Gerald’s Game
is THE best Stephen King film of 2017.

This may be considered a controversial opinion especially as It had broken box office records across the globe, but it’s one that I’ll stand by.

For avid readers of this website they may have noticed how much of a fan I am of director Mike Flanagan’s work following Absentia, Oculus, and three entries last year with Hush, Ouija: Origin of Evil, and Before I Wake.

His latest entry though (available now on Netflix) has confirmed his place as a master craftsmen in his field.

Another confirmation which if ignored will be criminal is the acting prowess of Carla Gugino who had long been carving out an impressive career and delivers a powerful performance in this Stephen King film adaptation.

Gerald’s Game which was supposedly ‘unfilmable’ tells the story of Jessie and Gerald who are trying to spice up their marriage with a weekend retreat to a lake house, only for things to go awry when Gerald suffers a heart attack leaving Jessie handcuffed to the bed.

She must now use her wits in order to break herself free from her chains but in doing so she must also internally face a Dark past that continues to haunt her.

Gugino delivers such diversity on screen and is ably supported by Bruce Greenwood (Gerald) and Henry Thomas (Jessie’s father) as told in flashbacks.

The audience is guided through Jessie’s plight without it feeling contrived and we flow through each scenario as Jessie goes deeper into her secret ‘well’ in order to gain the strength she needs to pull through.

Flanagan appears to have a deep fascination with the human psyche and once again is able to tap into that inner turmoil and present humanity at its most unstable as a result.

I can’t wait to see what dark recess of the mind that he unearths with his next project.

  • Paul Farrell 

Movie review: Hounds of Love

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Hands down Hounds of Love is the best Australian film this year.

The film not only manages to capture the time period that it is set (1987) and location of Perth, Australia, but more importantly it depends was something that seems all too rare these days – attention to character.

The story itself is a fairly simple one centring on the kidnap of Vicki (Ashleigh Cummings) by murderous couple Evelyn (Emma Booth) and John (Stephen Curry) but it’s the depth of character that truly makes this film.

An example of this can be seen in Stephen Curry’s performance, which as the domineering and brutal ‘male’ presence on screen that is beautifully underplayed and only brought to to the fore when absolutely necessary.

Added to this is that the character John isn’t just a one note performance as he too is the victim of control from some local ‘thugs’ prizing him of money at any given opportunity and undoing so depriving him of any manhood.

Only from behind closed doors can he feel that he can be King of his castle.

Any sign of change therein and he will soon lay down his law.

The attention though, isn’t owned by Curry. Hounds of Love is all the more powerful because of its female leads.

Ashleigh Cummings displays a lot of heart and strength as she bares her soul as victim Vicki, which is pushed to the nth degree in her fight for survival. 

Slowly we see her confidence and strength ebbed away as John and Evelyn chip away at her psyche physically. 

Vicky soon realises that if she is to survive it will be down to her wits, but how long can she endure the torment before she will cave?

For me though, I was incredibly impressed by Emma Booth’s portrayal of Evelyn.

Her character hangs on a knifes edge throughout the film as her unhinged and unpredictable nature keeps the audience guessing as to where she will land come the film’s conclusion, which is a testament to how Booth is able to display vulnerability, rage, and confusion to name but a few of the range of emotions that she had to portray to capture the essence of her character.

I was truly moved by all the performances from the leads and for Ben Young’s penmanship got his feature debut in the directors chair.

The level of richness across the board would have some forgiven from believing that Young was a veteran of his craft.

It’s going to be interesting to see how he carves out the rest of his career moving forward. Based on this movie he will go on strength to strength.

I couldn’t recommend Hounds of Love enough and if you’d like to hear more on the matter, check out our podcast interview with producer Melissa Kelly below:

https://player.whooshkaa.com/player/episode/id/104222?visual=true&sharing=true

Or alternatively on iTunes here.

  • Paul Farrell

Movie review: Lunch Ladies

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We’ve all been there right?

Standing in the school canteen queue, waiting to be served up some nutritious cuisine and to fuel up and energise for the day only to be presented with some disgusting slop that wouldn’t be worth giving to the dogs.

We may groan and show our disgust, but no one thinks about the poor souls who have to serve up this muck day in, day out.

No one spares a thought for the lunch ladies.

And this is where this fantastic short feature places us. In the heart of the school kitchen, where two lunch ladies, Seretta (Donna Pieroni) and LouAnne (Mary Manofsky) bust a gut to serve the hungry horde with a crap amount of decent food and very little recognition to go along with it.

Thank God for Johnny Depp, the shining light for these ladies’ way out of their dire world with the chance to become his personal chefs on the order.

But with the stakes so high and the pressure at breaking point, it won’t take long for something or someone to snap.

And when it does it comes in a bloody glorious fashion as the Lunch Ladies resort to drastic measures to cover up murder and keep their eye on the prize the only way they know how… in the kitchen.

With a nod to Sweeney Todd, it’s time to churn up their victims and deliver the best lunch order of their careers to pull them through.

Gloriously written by Clarissa Jacobson, who carves up a a delicious blend of macabre and humour, combined with director J.M. Logan’s eye for detail and Lunch Ladies stands tall amongst its counterparts as a result.

Our only regret is that there wasn’t a larger portion on offer as the characters and story could well amount to much more of time were given for them to breathe on screen.

Thankfully the producers are working on getting a long feature ready, so keep your eyes peeled for more from these great filmmakers down the track.

– Paul Farrell

Movie review: I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House

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Upon writing this review I have to premise my following thoughts by stating that I am a huge fan of everything that Ruth Wilson stars in and as such am fully prepared to admit that I may well have views this movie with Rose-tinted glasses on.

Throw into the mix that Osgood Perkins (son of actor, Anthony Perkins) who in his sophomore outing offers an atmospheric ‘vintage style’ horror that resonates and chills.

Much like his directorial debut, The Blackcoat’s Daughter, Perkins tells a slow-burn tale which is both it’s pro and con.

Fans of this style of storytelling will immerse themselves into the narrative whereas equally I can see how some viewers will and can struggle. Perhaps in some cases nod off to its sense of lull that barely registers a heartbeat in places.

In essence the story hinges on the performance of its lead, which brings me back to those aforementioned glasses and Ruth Wilson once again cuts a fine performance as Lily Saylor, a live-in nurse who status to suspect that her elderly employees house maybe haunted.

Carrying the lions share of the screen throughout the 87min running time, Wilson weaves an intriguing character who appears to suit the lifestyle of a ‘loner’ and through her character delves into the history of the house and its owner which slowly unravels a mystery where she may not return from.

Whilst watching this film, it’s easy to see why it has been likened to the works of David Lynch and Stanley Kubrick with its rich stylisation.

Whilst it might not be for everyone, Perkins paints a story that stays firmly in the mind and from this writers perspective, is fast becoming a director to keep firm tabs on.

I wouldn’t be surprised if we followed see some awards thrown his way down the track if he continues on this kind of trajectory.

  • Paul Farrell

Movie review: The Blackcoat’s Daughter

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The Blackcoat’s Daughter churns away at the soul and the psyche with a slow and effective grind that resonates deeply.

Osgood Perkins directorial debut which he also penned may not be for everyone with a pace that is so slow you’d be forgiven for that thinking that you were positively stationary.

What lifts this above most standard fare is the performances of Kiernan Shipka (Mad Men) who continues to show a level of maturity that belies her age and Emma Roberts (Nerve), who is also carving a strong career path with her film choices.

Told in two separate timelines that isn’t revealed until the climax, we initially follow Shipka’s Kat, a freshman who is waiting for her parents to pick her up from a prestigious boarding school for the holidays.

Surrounded by snow in a wintry climate that is reminiscent of Let The Right One In, Kat becomes increasingly more aloof and her behaviour more peculiar as a result.

Her sense of isolation is further exasperated as she fails to connect with the nuns at the school and the only other student on the premises, Rose (Lucy Boynton) who is herself too consumed with her own pregnancy that she fails to see Kat’s shrinking from the world and inner turmoil.

Meanwhile, Roberts’ Joan is making her own journey towards said boarding school where she is offered a lift by two parents grieving for the loss of their daughter.

The father seems sympathetic to Joan’s plight as if he recognises his  own daughter within her. The irony being that she is far from it and actually the perpetrator of his daughters death.

The struggle of human connectivity or lack thereof is front and centre of this film as the characters are minimal on number and those that we do see are so trapped in their own world that it’s no wonder that Kat is drawn to the darkness that surrounds us all and bows to the whims of a being that lurks beyond our own existence.

Perkins first attempt in the directors chair certainly impresses and it will be interesting to see what he does next as his vision feels like a strong one and for that he’s made a fan from this writer.

  • Paul Farrell

Movie review: The Evil Within

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By now most people would be familiar with this film as the self-financed project of Andrew Getty,  an American oil heir, businessman, film director and philanthropist.

A project that would take 15 years to make, primarily shot within his mansion including one room that was converted into an edit suite.

The tragedy though would be that Getty wouldn’t see the completion of his passion due to an untreated ulcer that would take his life.

The question though comes down to whether or not all that turmoil was worth it?

Without wanting to speak ill of the dead, the answer is partly yes, but mainly no.

The premise is simple enough, telling the story of a special needs boy, Dennis (played by Frederick Poehler), providing a highly credible performance.

Dennis begins to talk to his reflection in the mirror, which takes on a demonic presence portrayed by horror veteran Michael Berryman.

This demonic presence starts by haunting Dennis in his dreams before manipulating him to commit acts of murder.

The Evil Within‘ references the Dark history that lurks in Dennis past. A genius who was allegedly pushed down the stairs by his elder brother, John (Sean Patrick Flanery). The injuries of which resulted in his physical and mental state.

On paper, it feels like there is enough material there to make this an exceptional film, but the end result comes across as more of a misfire, perhaps down to being too scrutinised and worked over, that it feels more like a late night television movie as a result.

It’s a shame as it could have been so much more.

Worth a watch as there are some pretty cool effects before but just barely.

  • Paul Farrell

Movie review: The Belko Experiment

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Grab your stapler or whatever you can find to turn your office utensils into a weapon as The Belko Experiment sets up this Battle Royale fight for survival.

Greg McLean follows up his disappointing feature The Darkness with this highly enjoyable movie that pits peers against peers where there can be only one person to survive.

Although the film does fall into predictable terrain, The Belko Experiment has a strong enough cast to propel the narrative along and provide the audience with the sort of delights that brought McLean to the attention of horror film lovers with Wolf Creek.

John Gallagher Jr who’s is fast making some smart choices following Mike Flanagan’s Hush and 10 Cloverfield Lane plays the heart of the movie, striving to keep everyone alive whilst sticking to his strong principles.

To counter his stance are some prolific performances from Tony Goldwyn (Scandal) and John C McGinley (Scrubs) alongside some comedic elements delivered by Josh Brener (Silicon Valley) and Sean Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy, and writer for this film) to inject some much-needed humour into the macabre environment find themselves in.

And I haven’t even mentioned Michael Rooker’s involvement into the proceedings which is highly welcoming and an example of how awesome he can be despite his short screen time.

The Belko Experiment romps along with some awesome set pieces that feel realistic and not just shoved into place for the gore factor.

By its conclusion the movie rewards with a potential for further franchise development among a faceless nemesis in a human experiment that is purely set up on the basis of some ‘bigwigs’ scientific enjoyment.

McLean could well be back to finding his voice again, and with the Daniel Radcliffe film, Jungle next on the horizon, there’s more promise that this success will continue. 

  • Paul Farrell

Movie review: It Stains the Sands Red

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Of all the movies listed in the SUFF schedule, It Stains The Sands Red was the one that had me the most intrigued.

Directed by Colin Minihan, one half of the Vicious Brothers who brought Grave Encounters to the screen, but don’t let that deter you from seeing this movie.

Although, much like our last review on The Bad Batch and the podcast on It Comes At Night, the trailer much belies the film.

I did wonder how the premise of a woman stranded out in the Nevada desert during a zombie apocalypse whilst being pursued by a a lone walking dead, could possibly maintain its narrative without straining at the seems.

Whilst it does struggle in places, there is some nice enough moments broken with flashbacks detailing Molly’s dilemma.

Having fallen from grace and found her life spiral out of control Molly has landed in with a questionable crowd.

Heavily reliant on drugs, her clouded mind begins to clear as she is forced to endure the environment and head for an airport and ultimately salvation.

The fact that It Stains The Sands Red never shies away from what it means to be a woman from dealing with menstruation and turning that into empowerment is a huge salute to Minihan’s direction.

Brittany Allen cuts a fine performance as our lead Molly who is believable as we learn that she had left behind her son in what she believes is the safe hands of her sister.

The realisation soon sinks in that she must act, and take responsibility for him by getting back to him but not before going through a journey of humiliation, desperation, and appreciation.

One could argue that the BIG flaw of this film comes in the guise of the afore-mentioned Zombie, who Molly dubs Smalls after the size of his appendage.

But to state that means that you miss the point of the film, where Molly must find redemption in order to get her life back on track.

Her domestication of Smalls, ultimately lends her to adapt and by looking out for him, she can take on the skills she needs to look after her son once again.

By the time the film concludes, Molly could easily stand shoulder to shoulder with Ash (Evil Dead) in Her battle for survival.

Yes, she is a bad-ass, but needed to be forced into the unimaginable to get there.

This might not be for everyone and those expected an all-out gore fest in the heart of a desert wasteland maybe sorely disappointed, but I for one really enjoyed It Stains The Blood Red and feel that Minihan is growing from strength to strength as a director. 

  • Paul Farrell

Movie review: The Bad Batch

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Cannibalism, amputees, Jason Mamoa, and a Cult leader / DJ called The Dream, who lures people into a false sense of sanctity played by Keanu Reeves.

Throw in a dash Giovani Ribisi’s quirkiness and Jim Carrey playing an estranged hermit living on the outer rim and you have all the ingredients that take up Ana Lily Armipour’s sophomore outing following A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night.

Both The Bad Batch and Armipour’s previous effort deal with isolation and the notion of the outsider struggling to fit into a post-apocalyptic world.

In this instance, The Bad Batch sees Arlen (Suki Waterhouse) as our protagonist, forced to suffer an early ordeal at the hands of a family of cannibals living by their own means in a desert landscape.

In what feels like a deviation from what the trailer and film write-up had promised, Arlen soon resolves her predicament albeit with the loss of her arm and leg on her road to recovery.

And therein lies the beginning of a series of thinly-veiled metaphors that are riddled throughout the movie.

One could forgive this, if the plot line was strong enough to carry you through buy even this falls on the light side, so much so that the films failings become even more noticeable.

Not that it doesn’t have some strong points. Armipour certainly has a strong eye for creating some visual imagery from Arlen’s pop-culture style shorts to The Dream’s trance-like rhythms. Plus, you know, the whole Jason Mamoa brooding thing.

Whilst part of me really wanted to like like this film, because I genuinely like Armipour’s style and strongly believe that she is a talent to watch with a keen eye, ultimately  The Bad Batch struggles and much like Arlen limps its way to finding a conclusion or a way to ‘fit-in’.

Having said that, I don’t believe the movie needs to bow to conformity.

In doing so would go against the grain of the filmmakers vision.

With a little more time though, Armipour could well have crafted a stronger narrative that would have continued her unique style and story.

Instead it comes across as a unfinished symphony a half thought, waiting to be voiced with any sense of clarity as we’re left trailing like a tumbleweed in the wind.

  • Paul Farrell