Showmax just unboxed the first three episodes of the killer new Chucky series, just in time for Halloween. New episodes of the 18VHL-rated show will follow every Wednesday.
The series is giving Chucky fans all the feels – mainly fear, hysterical laughter and, for some, grim flashbacks to sleepless nights in 1988, when the now-legendary horror franchise debuted its first film, Child’s Play. But it’s also bringing out the nostalgia, the love and, unexpectedly, a dose of the “aw”s.
“People will laugh, and they will scream, in the ways that they expect, but I also hope to make people cry,” writer-director, showrunner and franchise mastermind Don Mancini (Hannibal) says of the series, which is currently #20 on IMDb’s Most Popular TV list and has a 96% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
“Long-standing fans will find plenty of what they’ve come to love,” Don adds, “but new fans are going to find a surprisingly rich story with complex characters, to the degree that you really can’t do in any single 90-minute movie. The eight-hour serialised format allows us to delve into these characters and relationships in a way we’ve never been able to do before.”
It all starts when a vintage Chucky doll turns up at a suburban yard sale, throwing an idyllic American town into chaos as a series of horrifying murders begins to expose the town’s hypocrisies and secrets.
Back to its roots
Picking up after the events of Cult of Chucky, the seventh film in the movie franchise, the series stars teen actor Zackary Arthur (Transparent, Kidding), who makes his franchise debut as Jake Wheeler, the quiet gay kid who buys the classic “Good Guy” doll at the yard sale.
“I wanted to bring the series back to its Child’s Play roots and involve teenagers,” Don explains. “They have more complicated issues that they’re dealing with, like bullying. In a way Chucky is the perfect bully, because he comes, as he always has, in the guise of being your best friend.”
Don says the series is the most personal thing he’s done. “We explore a very sweet teen gay romance, that I think people might be surprised at the depth of. It has a whiff of real-life pain, scenes from my own life replayed – a young, gay, anxious kid with issues.”
The cast includes Saturn Award winner Devon Sawa (Final Destination, Idle Hands), and teen actors Teo Briones (Ratched, Wind River), Alyvia Alyn Lind (Daybreak, Future Man, Transparent) and newcomer Bjorgvin Arnarson.
Fans will also be thrilled to see the line-up of Chucky veterans, including Oscar nominee Brad Dourif (The Lord of the Rings’ Wormtongue and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’s Billy Bibbit) as serial killer Charles Lee Ray – and Chucky himself, and genre marvel Fiona Dourif (The Stand, The Purge, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, The Blacklist) as Nica.
“I am the daughter of Brad Dourif,” Fiona explains, “so I was raised with Chucky. The first movie came out when I was five. I remember going to the premiere. I believe I hid under a seat.”
“This is like a family project in a way,” Brad says, dropping the shocker that “Chucky’s 71!”
Oscar nominee Jennifer Tilly (Bullets over Broadway, Bound) is also back as Tiffany but the biggest casting surprises are Alex Vincent, Chucky’s original Child’s Play arch-nemesis, Andy Barclay, and Christine Elise (BH90210), who played Andy’s foster sister, Kyle.
“I think Chucky fans are going to be so excited,” says Jennifer. “You’re introduced to new characters, and then a lot of the old characters come back. Don knows the fans want to see the original little boy in Chucky. Alex Vincent doesn’t just disappear. Don brought him back and made him this bearded vigilante.”
“For me, it’s just been wild,” Alex says. “I started this when I was six years old, and I just turned 40, and I’m going to be Andy again. [For] people that grew up with [Chucky], there’s a lot in this show that they’re going to be very excited to uncover about these characters.” Plus, of course, “some real gruesome, gory deaths… and this show is chock-full of those.”
AVClub says, “Chucky is as foul-mouthed and homicidal as ever… Mancini and Dourif have been doing this for so long, they seem to have nailed down an understanding of what makes Chucky fun.” Slant calls it, “a gruesome, surprisingly insightful coming-of-age story,” while Globe and Mail says, “Chucky is a delight… warped, wise, funny and very droll.”
The 10 Creepiest Dolls in Horror Films
As ScreenRant says in their line-up of The 10 Creepiest Dolls in Horror Films (where Chucky is second only to Puppet Master’s Blade), “By now, Chucky is a pop culture icon… Like Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger, or Michael Myers, Chucky has become synonymous with the horror trope of the unstoppable villain that seems to survive the most unlikely scenarios.”
And although SyFy hasn’t yet made a renewal announcement, if we’ve learned one thing about Chucky over the last 33 years, it’s that the guy is true to his word: “I’ll be back,” he promised. “I always come back.”
After all, you just can’t keep a Good Guy down.