CHUCKY wreaks havoc and terrorises victims in a campy, murderous debut season

Following the events of 2017’s Cult of Chucky, a vintage Good Guys doll shows up in the idyllic town of Hackensack, causing chaos to spread through the streets as a series of horrifying murders begin to uncover the town’s darkest secrets. Blending the new with the old, Chucky makes his TV debut in this thrilling season.

The mastermind behind the original Child’s Play (1988) film, Don Mancini, has successfully bought Chucky to the small screen in a series that brings us a brand new narrative, with new characters, while also continuing the story fans know and love. Firstly, the fact that Don has managed to continue his own franchise with a (largely) singular continuity across 7 movies and a TV show, spanning 33 years, is remarkable. It’s very interesting to see how his vision has evolved over time, from the silliness of something like Seed of Chucky (2004) to the more horror-slasher vibes of Curse of Chucky (2013). Nevertheless, all roads have led here, with everything Don has ever bought into the Chucky franchise coming together in what is like a celebration of the killer doll’s long-lasting legacy.

The core of this series’ narrative is focused on the young residents of Hackensack, who we meet for the first time here. At the centre of everything going on is Jake (Zackary Arthur), a student whose life is flipped upside down when he unknowingly brings Chucky to his home. Jake’s journey through the season, along with his interactions with his friends and how their relationships develop over time, makes for some engaging through-lines between episodes. The story goes in some new, surprising directions that allow us to see how Chucky gets fulfilment out of terrorising and manipulating these kids. Being a series, we get plenty of time to flesh out and understand these new characters, ensuring they’re not overshadowed as much by events going on elsewhere in Hackensack. These newbies are built up quite well in the early episodes, to the point where you care about them quickly, and are interested to see how their respective journeys play out over time.

That being said, as interesting as the new characters are, nothing compares to the truly exciting moments when the ‘legacy’ characters come into play. There’s obviously no secret that this series doubles as a sequel to Cult of Chucky, so it’s always been expected that certain characters from that film will play a part in this series. I’ll be as vague as possible by not mentioning specific characters, although if you’ve seen the last few movies – it should be clear who they are. This series is at its strongest when it focuses on the characters that fans already know and love, as seeing the continuation of the Cult and Curse story is brilliantly fulfilling. However, the way Don Mancini balances the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ within this series is handled beautifully. There’s certainly more of the ‘new’, as that’s the point of the show, but the fact that he ensures all aspects of the series are accessible to all audiences is a great creative decision.

Pacing-wise, it’s pretty consistent throughout the season. The first few episodes kick things off with plenty of character-focused moments and a great deal of screen-time for Chucky – you don’t need to wait long to hear Brad Dourif’s iconic voice. As the narrative progresses and we get into the latter half of the season, things ramp up drastically – not necessarily in terms of pace, more in terms of the tension. Don Mancini does a great job at delivering the thrills, kills and chills to keep things tense going into what is an incredible finale – an episode that plays out like the climax of a Chucky movie. There’s absolutely no shortage of creatively brutal kills that are guaranteed to make you squirm – a true specialty of Chucky. The kills are consistent too – you can’t go an entire episode without some sort of spilling of blood, making every episode a satisfying watch.

Despite being more rooted in the horror-slasher genre, there’s always been a fun campiness to the Chucky franchise that’s a core part of its identity – no doubt a result of the cheesiness of a talking doll possessed by a serial killer. That’s absolutely not left behind in this series, with a good amount of comedic beats, silly moments and hilarious antics to breathe some life into the each episode. Basically, any time you get to witness Chucky doing something mischievous, it’s almost always comedically entertaining in some way. Even something as simple as the titular doll putting the finger up is a hilarious touch. This does go back to the writing, but also links to Brad Dourif’s irreplaceable performance as Chucky. His voice is iconic, and the way he portrays the role in a way that’s truly psychotic, while also being comedically charming, is just amazing.

Brad Dourif may be the star of the show, but the other performances around him are also pretty good. The performances from the returning cast are fantastic and on point. They all jump right back into their characters and make watching their scenes all the more fun. When it comes to the newer, younger cast, they do well to bring some pretty meaningful emotion to key scenes, though some of the delivery of their dialogue is a bit off and a little jarring. Zackary Arthur is solid in the lead role, carrying a number of scenes well and getting you on his side for the bulk of the season. I also liked Alyvia Alyn Lind as Lexy and Bjorgvin Arnarson as Devon, who make up the central three characters (alongside Jake) and all bring something to their respective characters that make them fun to watch.

In the end, the Chucky series is a triumphant transition to TV from the movies that preceded it. If anything, I prefer the idea of a series to the movies as we get so much more time with the killer doll and the characters he terrorises. It’s a load of camp, cheesy fun and murder, with a fantastic blend of the new story and the old. There’s something in here for all audiences, whether you’re a fan of the franchise or jumping into this series mostly blind. The essence of Chucky is not lost here, if anything it’s heightened – with everything you know, love and expect coming into play for a murderous romp around Hackensack. Guaranteed to leave you wanting more, Chucky is a must-watch for any horror fan.

9.1/10

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