Living With Chucky - New Release Review
Director: Kyra Elise Gardner
Starring: Brad Dourif, Christine Elise, Marlon Wayans, Jennifer Tilly, Billy Boyd, Fiona Dourif, Alex Vincent, Don Mancini
Written by: Kyra Elise Gardner
Produced by: Tony Gardner, Ash T
Cinematography by: Evan Butka, Brian Davis, Scott Marino
Original Score by: Jerry Lambert
Filmmaker Kyra Elise Gardner, daughter of iconic special effects artist Tony Gardner, takes an in-depth look at the groundbreaking horror franchise that she literally grew up with. Featuring interviews with creator Don Mancini and the cast and crew from the entire franchise.
It’s funny to think that Chucky has been terrorizing our screens for the last 35 years. From movies, a TV show, a terrible reboot and more merch to fill a Hot Topic 3 times over, Chucky’s popularity as the horror worlds lil’ stinker is a phenomenon. A lot of the success is thanks to the Brad Dourif’s vocal performance, making audiences laugh while performing some of the most gruesome murders you’ll see in any horror franchise. Dourif’s voice work is often so good, that you often forget that Chucky isn’t real and is being puppeteered by a team just a few inches under the frame. Kevin Yagher served as one of the lead technicians on the first 4 Chucky films, but when 'Seed of Chucky' was being made, Yagher dropped out of the franchise and Tony Gardner took over the reins.
In this documentary, director Kyra Elise Gardner (daughter of Tony), gives us insight into the whole Chucky series. Going film by film, we get to see behind the scenes footage and interviews from people like creator Don Mancini, Brad Dourif, producer David Kirschner and Jennifer Tilly. We also see interviews with celebrity fans like Abigail Breslin, James A. Janisse (from Youtube’s Dead Meat) and John Waters. It’s a great range of talking heads, telling stories from a more personal angle as Kyra Elise Gardner is part of the Chucky family. A lot of the stories I've heard before from other sources, like DVD extras and commentaries, but your average Chucky fan might find it fun to find out the behind-the-scenes process of how the crazy movies even got made.
One of the strangest things about the interviews is when we cut to Lin Shaye and Marlon Wayans. Both horror legends, but neither of them mention Chucky once, which feels stupid odd. They give their insight into what it’s like to work in the horror genre, but it really just feels like a general overview and could have been cut out.
We’ve had character specific documentaries before with the likes of 'Never Sleep Again' and 'Crystal Lake Memories', that go super in-depth into each film and the series as a whole. 'Living With Chucky' wants to take a more personal approach, with the director being the daughter of the lead puppeteer. The problem is that it’s not that interesting a tale. We hear interviews with these industry workers and how it can be difficult working away from your families for up to 6 months, but it seems that Tony Gardner was always a good father who was never away from his family for long. It’s not even as if Kyra Elise Gardner truly grew up with Chucky always being a presence in her life. She was a kid when 'Seed' was being made, then by the time 'Curse of Chucky' came around she was a full-grown adult.
A more interesting angle that they kind of touch on is what life was like for Fiona Dourif growing up with her father actually being Chucky. With the added bonus of Fiona becoming the new face of the franchise, it seems like a missed opportunity to not just make the film about her.
With the documentary never really diving deep enough into each film (they literally spend about 90 seconds talking about Child’s Play 3) and the idea of actually growing up with Chucky never fully developed, the film often feels aimless. For fans like myself, it’s fun to see all these creators talking about one of the most interesting killers in horror history. For anyone else watching, this might just feel like a broad strokes overview of the series.
- Adam Neeson
'Living With Chucky' will be available to own or rent in the UK & Ireland from April 24 via Amazon, AppleTV, Sky Store, Virgin Media and Google Play. Also available on Blu-ray.