April 22, 2023 Living with Chucky (Documentary Review)
One doll struck fear into the hearts of millions and gave birth to a franchise that spanned eight feature films (including a reboot), comics, video games, and most recently, a television series. Who is that doll? None other than Chucky!
With origins dating back over three decades, Chucky, the Good Guy Doll, first came to the screen when Writer Don Mancini wanted to tell a story about a killer doll. Feeling passionate about his vision, it all became a reality in the Tom Holland directed original 1988 film Child’s Play. A highly successful debut, Child’s Play gifted moviegoers a new, modern Horror icon that is still stabbing his way into our hearts after all of these years.
Now, while most of us grew up watching Chucky in our homes on cable or VHS, some were lucky enough to quite literally have Chucky as a permanent fixture in their lives; giving them pint-sized, homicidal brother they never wanted. This is the case for Director Kyra Elise Gardner, daughter of iconic Special Effects Artist Tony Gardner, who introduces a look at Chucky and his reign of terror in the new documentary Living with Chucky.
Released on April 4, 2023 stream exclusively on Screambox, before hitting Blu-ray via Cinedigm and Bloody Disgusting on April 18th, Living with Chucky unites the franchise’s most notable stars, both on and off camera, along with the fans that have helped keep the franchise alive. Clocking in at 1 hour and 40 minutes, the documentary takes you on a blood-soaked journey through from Child’s Play to 2017’s Cult of Chucky. Chucky Creator Don Mancini and franchise alumni. such as Brad Dourif and Jennifer Tilly (the voices behind horror’s most dysfunctional and iconic couple), Fiona Dourif, Alex Vincent, Christine Elise, Billy Boyd, John Walters, and David Kirshner join forces with fans of the franchise like Marlon Wayans, Abigail Breslin, Lin Shaye, Dan Povenmire, and others as they gush about their fondness for Chucky and the character’s impact on the Horror genre.
Told through exclusive footage and interviews, Living with Chucky provides an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at the franchise, the evolution of Horror and Slasher films, and Chucky and his legacy. Furthermore, the documentary offers you a chance to look at each film, uncover the elements that made the franchise what it is, and why Chucky has had such a lasting career as a slasher with an ever-growing fanbase. You get to look into everything from the filmmaker’s dedication to practical effects to Brad Dourif’s charismatic voice. Additionally, the insight from the cast and crew behind the Child’s Play films truly solidifies that everyone involved not only knows how to deliver a project that stands the test of time, but also understands their audience well.
Despite what you think you know about the Child’s Play franchise as a whole, the documentary takes it a step further, providing a more intimate look at the franchise and those responsible for bringing them to life. Breaking it down, if you are a fan or not, Chucky still managed to take a seemingly harmless child’s toy and turn it into a modern Horror icon alongside the likes of Freddy Krueger, Jason Vorhees, and Michael Myers.
In the end, the personal touches are what give this documentary something special. This includes everyone from Mancini’s stories of fighting tooth and nail to save the franchise, to Jennifer Tilly explaining how she almost did not take the role in 1998’s Bride of Chucky (only to have Tiffany Valentine become an integral part of her life), to Fiona Dourif sharing stories of what it was like truly “living with Chucky” as your father.
A talented, rising filmmaker, Kyra Gardner does a phenomenal job creating a film that goes beyond the gore and doll parts, but instead highlights how these stories are interwoven into the cast/crew’s lives just as much as they are the fans. Living with Chucky is not just a love letter to the franchise, but to those responsible for bringing Chucky into our homes and nightmares. That is why Cryptic Rock gives this documentary 5 out of 5 stars.