The Child’s Play franchise is one that will be well known to many a horror fan, and its main character is one of the most well known and instantly recognisable figures in horror (sorry Anabelle, Chucky’s the number one doll). Living With Chucky is a new documentary film that takes a look at the entire scope of the franchise, and one that has something a little different and special up its sleeve to make it stand out from other horror retrospectives.
The film begins simply enough, as we slowly go through each film in the series, getting to learn about the evolution of the franchise. We get to meet Don Mancini, the original writer and creator of Chucky (Brad Dourif), who tells us about the origins of the script, the process of shopping it around Hollywood, hoping to see it picked up. Luckily, producer David Kirschner just happened to be into haunted dolls at the time, and was looking for a script to scratch that itch. The two met, and Child’s Play began. From here we get some insight into how the film was made, the process of creating the first Chucky puppets, and what it was like for Alex Vincent to work on the film at such a young age as Andy, the boy Chucky was determined to take over.
READ MORE: Masters of the Universe: Masterverse #3 – Comic Review
From here we jump into the second film, then the more maligned third movie, as the creators talk about the quick demand for sequels, and how they ultimately took the series in the direction they did. Whilst the first two films get some decent attention, the third is covered relatively quickly; perhaps the creators knowing that it’s still considered to be the least favourite of the series by fans. Then, however, we enter a new era for the series, with The Bride of Chucky. Embracing a more comedic angle, the series introduced Jennifer Tilly into the mix as Tiffany, who would ultimately become a doll just as iconic as Chucky. You can see the joy on Dourif’s face when talking about this movie, of how happy he was to go from working alone in a sound booth for the movie to being able to act with Tilly and bounce off her energy, quick wits and ability to improvise.
We then cover Seed of Chucky, which brought actor Billy Boyd on board to play Chucky’s gender fluid child Glen/Glenda in a film that got a little bit meta. What comes next is another shift in the series, as we cover Curse of Chucky and Cult of Chucky, both of which go back to the horror roots of the franchise, and introduced a new protagonist in the form of Dourif’s own daughter, Fiona. By the time each of the films have been covered it’s become clear that, unlike some horror franchises, the Child’s Play series has embraced change, has tried new things, and has surprisingly kept most of the same cast and crew across seven films. But with a big section of the film left, what is the rest of the documentary about?
This is where Living With Chucky sets itself apart from other documentaries, as the director introduces herself, Kyra Elise Gardner, daughter of special effects creator Tony Gardner, who worked on the series since Seed of Chucky. Kyra grew up with Chucky, Tiffany, and Glen/Glenda in the house, and has come to see Chucky as something of a younger brother, and the franchise as part of her family. And this film has been her chance to finally meet a lot of the people who made that a part of her life. She connects with actor Alex Vincent over what it was like having Chucky around as a kid, and she and Fiona Dourif joke about what it’s like watching your father killed on film, and childhood experiences with the franchise.
The documentary goes from being a brief overview on the franchise, and instead starts to look at the family that formed behind the camera. Whether it’s the writer who’s been involved with each instalment, the producer who’s been there since the beginning, the actors who made the roles iconic, or the special effects team who brought the puppets to life, you can see the bonds that these people developed over the three decades that Chucky has been around. The genuine joy they have when swapping stories, or the affection that comes through when they talk about their co-workers, makes this more than a bunch of talking heads. Brad and Fiona Dourif are together each time either one of them is talking, and you can see the pride that the elder Dourif has for his daughter becoming part of the franchise that made him an icon, and how much he cares about the franchise passing into her hands.
The documentary also talks about the fans that have fallen in love with the series, and how they’ve become part of that extended family. The fans who have the dolls, who have the characters tattooed on them, and who dress up as Chucky and Tiffany. You can see the appreciation that the cast and crew have for them, and how grateful they are for the support that the series has been given over the years. It becomes a celebration of the franchise and all those who’ve come to love it, rather than a simple breakdown of the films and how they were made.
READ MORE: Injustice: Gods Among Us – Throwback 10
The film isn’t your average horror documentary, though it does do some of the expected. It has a host of talking heads that aren’t really connected to the film, but come from the wider horror genre; such as Lin Shaye and Abigail Breslin. It looks at each of the films and gives brief glimpses into the behind the scenes that are interesting, and I’m sure that there will be some criticism that these parts were glossed over pretty quickly, and it would have been nice to see more about their making, but that’s not what this film is ultimately about. It’s like the title says, it’s about growing up Living With Chucky.
Living With Chucky is out on Blu-ray and Digital on 24th April.