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Seed of Chucky (2004)
It’s hard to take a film seriously when the tagline is “Get a Load of Chucky.” But the good thing about Seed of Chucky, I suppose, is that it doesn’t ask you to take it all that seriously. In that regard, Seed is a refreshing and funny horror film that isn’t quite on par with 1998’s super-cool Bride of Chucky, but is nevertheless a skillfully conceived entry in the long-running Child’s Play series.
Jennifer Tilly (Bride of Chucky) is back again, this time playing an exaggerated version of herself as a fallen B-Movie starlet. The only gig Tilly can get: costarring in a horror sequel about killer dolls. Ho ho. The other stars of the film within a film are, of course, Chucky (voiced by Brad Dourif) and Tiffany (voiced by Tilly). After a reunion of sorts with their long lost child (an androgynous doll born at the end of Bride of Chucky), our diabolical doll husband-and-wife-team decide their confused offspring needs a sibling. Their choice for a surrogate mother: Jennifer Tilly.
As the film progresses somewhat sloppily from one demented plot point to the next, some elements thoroughly entertain whereas others almost extinguish the film's fun level altogether. It seems as though almost every scene with Tilly is fresh, interesting, or satisfyingly grotesque. Her performance is brave, hilariously self-referential, and more than a little over the top. Her dual role as herself and as the voice of Tiffany provides fodder for many scenes that play on her star persona. One such sequence, involving a phone call between Tilly's personal assistant and Tilly as Tiffany, borders on brilliant.
Another bright spot comes in the form of funny-man director turned on-screen Tilly-obsessed paparazzi John Waters. His dialogue is cheeky enough to satisfy hardcore gross-out comedy fans (this film really is a gross-out comedy, at its most basic level), whereas the events that surround his character should be more than satisfying for the most ardent Chucky fan. The scenes with Waters help prove what's right in Seed of Chucky: the comedy and satire.
What's wrong with the film, I'm afraid, are most of the horror elements. The puppet design of Chucky and Tiffany's "seed" is absolutely abysmal. Named Glen or Glenda, depending on the parent (a heavy-fisted reference to the Ed Wood film of the same name), the androgynous doll looks more like a cross between Clay Aiken and the Leprechaun than either Chucky or Tiffany. This is most certainly not the same demented, violent newborn on display in Bride of Chucky. It's a terribly noticeable flaw for a film that is supposed to depend on the title character.
More importantly, most scenes that focus on the plight of Chucky and Tiffany have none of the blood-soaked chemistry found in Bride of Chucky. The gore in the film centering on the demented War of the Roses between Chuck & Tiff, while potent and considerable, seems to fall most often into the category of shock for shock's sake. If you want a specific example, check out the scene where Chucky attempts to collect some of his seed for later distribution. It'll leave most viewers reaching for the puke bag for all the wrong reasons.
Also, a couple of elements that made Bride a cut above the rest of the horror sequel crowd are strangely absent here. Ronny Yu and his director of photography brought a vibrant and lively visual flair to Seed's predecessor, making the film a creepy, malevolent piece of art house trash when it needed to be, and toning down the visual palette for scenes that were more comedic. There is no such ingenuity to be found in this current entry. The look of the film is very flat, Chucky and Tiffany don't muster a single scare, and first time director Don Mancini seems unable to frame Jennifer Tilly in a way that makes her appealing (and she is, I must admit, very deserving of appeal).
Mancini's script is also a downer. The dialogue is outstanding, don't get me wrong, but for a barely feature-length horror sequel, Mancini attempts to juggle far too many plot elements to make any one of them worthwhile. Between the story of the dolls, Tilly's stilted career and consequential seduction of Redman, Glen/Glenda's plight for sexual identity, John Waters' subplot, and a few other on-screen events, there isn't enough room here for a single plot to emerge, let alone standout and give us something to care about.
But as I stated earlier, Seed of Chucky is fun. Despite its flaws, it musters enough entertainment value to qualify as a good, if far from great, horror film. If you are a fan of the Chucky saga (Bride, in particular), you'll want to catch this interesting cinematic mix of humor and perversity. If you're looking for a truly scary horror extravaganza, you'll most likely want to skip it. For the most part, Seed is a gooey, hip diversion from the remake-infested doldrums of recent American horror. And since it's the fifth film in a rather dated horror series, that's saying a lot.