Living with Chucky, the new retrospective documentary on the life and legacy of everyone’s favourite killer doll, is a bit of a mixed bag. When focusing on the production of each of the films in the series from the 1988 Child’s Play up to 2017’s Cult of Chucky, the film offers an entertaining – albeit rushed – insight into how Chucky came to be. But then, the whole thing flips into something else.
The film’s title becomes more appropriate at around an hour in, when it’s revealed that the film’s director Kyra Gardner has more of a connection to the films than expected. Her father, make-up and special effects legend Tony Gardner, worked on the last three films in the series – even cameoing as himself and becoming a grisly victim in Seed of Chucky. The documentary moves further and further away from the films and their legacy, and becomes a nauseatingly twee and trite personal project for Kyra Gardner. Living with Chucky becomes more a case of ‘living with filmmakers’; each of the subjects begin to wax lyrical about how their colleagues on the Chucky series have become a second family and blah blah blah. It’s all very schmaltzy, and you’ll forget you were even watching a film about a shit-talking killer doll.
Still, the first hour or so is decent. While it lacks the exhaustive approach of lengthier docs like the epic four-hour Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy, there’s a lot of interesting insight into Chucky’s inception and production. There are glaring omissions – Child’s Play 3 is covered in what feels like minutes (totally ignoring its UK notoriety following the murder of James Bulger), and the underrated ‘19 reboot isn’t mentioned once. The film was also evidently completed before the successful Chucky TV series began, too – it is reduced to a footnote here as production began. But as a brief runthrough of the first 7 films in the series, there’s entertainment to be had. Seed of Chucky is understandably given a healthy chunk of time, discussing how Don Mancini made the films “gayer” to mixed reactions from audiences.
The amount of talent from the films interviewed is staggering – it seems the film was able to track down almost everyone involved from cast to crew. But the additions of stars like Abigail Breslin and Marlon Wayans, who have never appeared in the franchise, feels odd. They add almost nothing to the documentary, offering pretty inconsequential statements on the filmmaking process as they’ve experienced it in their respective careers.
Living with Chucky has moments of genuine insight, but ultimately there isn’t a lot to learn here for anyone who’s followed the series closely over the years. The doc feels like more of a snapshot than a study, and the last 30-40 minutes are poorly spent on trite discussions of domesticity rather than probing deeper into the films and their legacy.
Fans of Chucky will enjoy this retrospective, but on the whole, it feels like little more than a DVD bonus feature.
Living With Chucky will be available to own or rent in the UK & Ireland from April 24 via Amazon, AppleTV, Sky Store, Virgin Media and Google Play. Also available on Blu-ray.