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by: Michael Dequina

Unlike eating a box of chocolates, walking into the movie Bride of Chucky, you're pretty sure what you're gonna get. For the fourth film in the Child's Play horror franchise, you pay your admission to see Chucky, the diminutive, redheaded "Good Guy" doll possessed by the spirit of a dead serial killer, slice and dice his way through a long line of human victims--no more, no less, all done somewhat tongue-in-cheek but largely done in the name of a good scare.

How surprising it is, then, to watch Bride, which plays less like another sequel than a Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker sendup of the series. Perhaps writer Don Mancini (the creator of the series) saw self-parody as the only way to keep Chucky alive in the irony-drenched post-Scream horror climate, making free use of self-deprecating dialogue such as "Chucky? He's so '80s!" The plot itself is a joke, with Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly), a former flame of the incarnate Chucky, becoming Chucky the doll's (voiced by Brad Dourif) partner in serial murder after her newly-liberated spirit inhabits a female doll.

All of the added humor, though, does not make Bride of Chucky a good film--just a campy one. For all their irony, post-Scream thrillers, in the end, are horror films, going after the big scare. Bride, however, makes no attempt to be scary; the scariest thing about it is the fact that it was directed by the gifted Ronny Yu, who in his native Hong Kong directed the brilliant 1993 action fantasy The Bride with White Hair. As gruesome as some of Chucky and Tiffany's murders are (for instance, one man's face becomes a pincushion for nails), they are too over-the-top to truly shock. In fact, the film's big problem is just that, being too over-the-top too much of the time, from the acting (the dreadful Tilly in particular) to story developments (yes, a doll-doll sex scene is funny, but still...). Even a film called Bride of Chucky could use some restraint and be all the better for it. By the time the film came to its predictable "twist" ending (hint: what logically follows "bride of..."?), you may feel like groaning. The audience with whom I saw the film did (and quite loudly, I might add).

That's all Bride of Chucky leaves you with--a groan: a groan that this tired series may not yet be over; a groan that you blew hard-earned cash to see it; but most of all, a groan that you've just lost 80-some-odd minutes of your life that can never be recovered.

RATING: ** (out of *****)


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