Thursday, October 30, 2014

Chucky Week: 'Seed of Chucky' (2004)

I thoroughly enjoyed Seed of Chucky when it was released in 2004, and I was happy to see Chucky creator Don Mancini finally get the chance to direct a movie in the series that's become essentially his life's work. But revisiting the movie a decade later, I wasn't nearly as entertained. The self-reflexive elements of the movie have not aged well, and while some of the humor is still effective (I was pretty impressed with Mancini's commitment to the dumb "Made in Japan" joke that recurs throughout the entire movie), a lot of it is pretty painful. Bride of Chucky manages to be campy while also functioning more or less as a coherent thriller about Chucky and Tiffany on a killing spree; Seed is a full-on comedy with minimal internal logic and a paper-thin story. If the jokes don't land, there's basically nothing else there.

The biggest problem with Seed is the introduction of the title character, the spawn of Chucky and Tiffany glimpsed at the very end of Bride. While Tiffany (and Jennifer Tilly) reinvigorated the franchise with her debut, Glen/Glenda (voiced by Billy Boyd) is mostly just a drain on the story, and his/her character arc is scattershot and belabored, especially compared to Tiffany's development in Bride. Poor Tiffany gets a much weaker arc in this movie, too, as she decides to give up killing now that she's a mother, and treats it as an addiction to be overcome. It's disappointing that Mancini dilutes her nastiness and then doesn't offer much in its place.

Even Chucky is a bit diluted here, as the movie focuses on Glen/Glenda, Chucky and Tiffany's gender-confused, cowardly child (the name, of course, is a play on the Ed Wood movie Glen or Glenda), who tracks down his parents and inadvertently revives them with a variation on the old soul-switching spell. Apparently not even pieces of the old dolls are necessary for revival now, since the Chucky and Tiffany of Seed are actually movie props for a film-within-the-film about the Chucky murders. That film stars Jennifer Tilly, who gets to appear in the flesh this time by playing herself, but, disappointingly, her performance as herself is not nearly as entertaining as her performance as Tiffany was in Bride.

Tilly is game for anything, but the meta storyline is so half-assed that it completely squanders her fearlessness. Seed seems like an obvious reaction to the Scream movies (especially Scream 2, with its characters dealing with a film-within-the-film about their lives), but it's also indebted to another Wes Craven project, 1994's New Nightmare, which managed to cleverly deconstruct its franchise via actors playing themselves and also work pretty effectively as a horror movie. Seed isn't actually interested in being scary, which is okay, but its hit-and-miss jokes aren't strong enough to compensate.

No comments: