Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Chucky Week: 'Child's Play 3' (1991)

Although it was released only nine months after Child's Play 2, Child's Play 3 takes place eight years later, with Andy Barclay now 16 years old and shipped off to a military boarding school after drifting through various foster homes. It's a sort of jarring shift that's just one indication of this movie's paucity of ideas (to which series creator Don Mancini has admitted). Since Alex Vincent did not also age eight years in nine months, he was replaced as Andy by Justin Whalin, an older and slightly less annoying (but no more charismatic) actor. Making Andy into a teenager doesn't really do much to complicate his relationship with Chucky, and the movie hedges its bets by introducing a new kid to befriend Chucky, theoretically moving Andy forward as a character while preserving the same dynamic from the first two movies.

The movie opens in the same location where the previous one left off, the factory where the Good Guys dolls were made, starting back up after lying dormant for years. Of course the remnants of Chucky are still there, and of course his blood contaminates the materials being used to make Good Guys dolls, and Chucky is somehow reborn. After he kills the head of the toy company (you'd think they'd learn not to bother trying to make new dolls after their employees keep getting murdered) in a mildly amusing sequence involving toys as deadly weapons, Chucky has himself shipped to Andy's school, but he ends up in the possession of the cheerful, naive Tyler (Jeremy Sylvers) instead.

From there, Chucky makes his familiar play to transfer his soul into a new body, although thanks to a half-hearted loophole, he can now possess Tyler instead of Andy, so Andy becomes the protector figure that his mother and foster sister played in the previous movies. Chucky's threat is pretty weak here, and his kills are rather perfunctory. There isn't quite as much humor as in the second movie, but at this point Chucky isn't remotely scary, so he barely makes an impact. Mancini and director Jack Bender spend as much time focusing on the military school setting and the sadistic bully who torments Andy as they do on Chucky. That bully is a pretty stock military-school type, but at least he has some personality, which is more than can be said for Andy or his bland love interest.

The underwhelming finale takes place inside a carnival haunted house, which is somehow less exciting and inventive than the second movie's toy factory location. Given how unstoppable Chucky has been in the past, his death here is seriously anticlimactic (he doesn't even get the requisite horror-movie "I'm not really dead" moment before being finally dispatched). After rushing into this movie, Mancini and the producers waited until 1998 to bring Chucky back, and thankfully by that time they had a better idea of how to make him entertaining again.

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