January 26, 2011

Movie Review: Child's Play 2

I have to say that the first Child's Play movie is a wonderful horror movie. It is  movie that dances along a campy line yet retains an effectively scary and atmospheric edge. Yes, that's right, the horror movie about a killer doll is actually scary. The movie was a success and with the open door at the end of the movie, the door was also left open for a sequel. It only took two years for Chucky to get back to the big screen and like so many horror sequels (well, sequels in general), they went bigger and broader than the original.

The second go around is entertaining enough, but it does stretch the boundaries of logic further than the original ever did. That is saying a lot considering the movie centers on a killer who used black magic to transfer his soul into a toy doll who is now trying to put said soul into a little boy, killing anyone who gets in his way. I know, how can you top that?

The last time we saw Chucky (I hope you've seen the original) he was a burnt/shot up mess of a doll. Young Andy Barclay and his mother, Karen, had narrowly survived a harrowing night of terror as Chucky did his best to end them.

The story picks up with Andy in the foster home system and his mother institutionalized over her claims of a killer doll (I guess Andy doesn't even rate a shrink). However, before we catch up with Andy, we need some time with Chucky. He isn't dead, you know, he has just gotten into the hands of the original toy manufacturer are jittery over potential bad press, so they go about refurbishing the crispy critter to show there was nothing wrong with it. We watch this rebuild process through the credits where the big reveal was that the toy has a metal skull, this strikes me as unlikely, but all right.

Now, Andy has been taken in by a seemingly inexperienced foster parent couple who keep breakable antiques around the house and forget what toys they have hidden around the house. The boy seems to be doing all right, and the family accept him with open arms, including fellow foster kid, the nearly 18 and surly Kyle (Christine Elise). They manage all right at first.

It is clear the movie is taking inspirations from two of horror's slasher icons, Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers. They follow the Freddy model of increasing the body count, giving the bad guy more screen time, and let him talk more. The Myers model comes in as Chucky has the singular goal of getting his hands on Andy, like Myers and Laurie Strode.

Before long Chucky is back on the scene, wreaking havoc and letting people believe that Andy is a little troublemaker. The incidents build and build until Chucky is revealed to the adults (and Kyle) for the little killer he is leading to the climactic showdown with Andy's continued being on the line.

Yes, I enjoyed Child's Play 2, but not nearly as much as its predecessor. There is still something of a creep factor with the doll (you have to admit, he is not the friendliest looking of dolls). I liked seeing more of Chucky and I liked how they continued having Andy take the blame for Chucky's early deeds.

Still, the movie does not sit quite right. It feels like they really decided to just make it bigger. This movie's relationship to the real world is not nearly as close as the original and the overall movie suffers for it. The characters are often more caricature than character. Everything just feels more overblown.

In the end I cannot lie, it has its moments. I liked Chucky in the back of the toy company guy's car and the sequence in the classroom. I think the whole foster child thing could have been handled better. Perhaps they could have explained why Andy a little better than what is done. And how, exactly, did Andy tie himself up?

You either are going to enjoy it or you aren't. If you look to it for a quality movie and a follow up to the much stronger original, you are bound to be disappointed. However, if you are just looking for a fun horror movie with a killer doll? Why not, this will fit the bill. You certainly could do a lot worse.

Mildly Recommended.

Note: This was viewed via streaming on Netflix.

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