Living With Chucky – Film Review

Thirty-five years ago, the horror world was introduced to a new type of slasher villain. He wasn’t a hockey mask wearing zombie, a dream-walking burn victim, or a chainsaw wielding hillbilly. He was an adorable animatronic child’s doll and his name was Chucky!

Over the decades, writer Don Mancini’s Chucky has slashed, strangled, shot, smothered, and slayed his way through dozens of victims and isn’t slowing down. Although the sequels may have drastically reduced budgets, there still exists a strong love for Chucky. People have either grown up with the films or the films have been a part of them for most of their lives.

One such person is filmmaker Kyra Elise Gardner. As daughter of visual effects artist and puppeteer Tony Gardner, she feels a familial connection to Chucky. She has made Living With Chucky to explore what it means to be part of the ever growing Chucky family.

For my part, as far back as I can recall, I was a fan of the Child’s Play film franchise. I watched and fell in love with the initial trilogy long before I should have been allowed to. While I admit successive films in the franchise lost my interest more as they went on (I even preferred the non-canon remake, so sue me), it is however hard to deny the cult following that Chucky has amassed. With the new Chucky TV series about to enter its 3rd season, it’s high time for a documentary like this.

Although many other movie slashers have had legacy documentaries made about them, so far one for Chucky has been absent. With a multitude of interviews and first-hand accounts from names and familiar faces to fans, this makes Living With Chucky a fascinating and informative watch.

The documentary follows a largely chronological look through the series of films with relevant stars being introduced as they appear in the movies. Sometimes, it can feel a little like we’re just being walked through the plots of the films. However, interesting trivia and backstories are relayed much like annotations along the course of our multi-film journey.

Various topics are explored such as Chucky’s fandom within the LGBTQ community and the hardships of production on a lower budget. It is illuminating hearing about the different styles of recording voices for different film with Brad Doruff (the voice of Chucky) and Jennifer Tilly (his bride, Tiffany) seeming to prefer acting off each other, while Billy Boyd (their son/daughter, Glen/Glenda) lamenting recording by his lonesome for his respective film.

The film oddly features interviews with actors such as Marlon Waynes, Lin Shaye, and Abigale Breslyn. I like all these people but none of them are from the Chucky franchise. Their inclusion in the film appears to stem simply from previously being in movies Tony Gardner worked on. They do talk about the films as fans and give insight on abstract concepts related to filmmaking, but honestly, I don’t know why they are here.

Living With Chucky really sets itself apart from other similar features in its latter half. Despite promotion for this documentary making her connection known, Kyra Elise Gardner doesn’t make an appearance until over an hour in. The doco then pivots from its chronological structure to cover more intimate facets of these films. The cast and crew who over the years have become like a family (literally), so in the case of Brad Doruff and his real-life daughter, now co-star, Fiona Doruff.

This is an interesting watch and it is highly recommended to any fan of the Chucky films. It just isn’t quite the definitive Chucky saga documentary some of us may have wanted it to be. To be honest, I would have preferred Gardner’s connection been set up early and used as a framing device for the entire narrative. It is touching to explore the heart and soul which goes into making this film series but I just wish it was more focused. 

Living with Chucky will be available on all major digital platforms in Australia from April 26.

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