Chucky returns after a nine-year slumber in Curse of Chucky and is up to his old deadly tricks with a sinister glee and a macabre, menacing twinkle in his smile. Written and directed by Don Mancini, the sixth installment is the first straight-to-home video in the series, yet it delivers some delightfully fun and twisted horror, making it a great entry in the franchise. Courtesy of Scream Factory, the movie lands on 4K Ultra HD with an excellent Dolby Vision HDR video, an awesome DTS-HD MA track and a trio of new featurettes, joined by the same bonus material as before. Overall, the UHD edition makes for a welcomed and Recommended addition to the 4K horror collection.
After a nine-year slumber, Chucky originator Don Mancini takes his monster creation back to basics in this sixth installment to the franchise, and Curse of Chucky marks the first non-theatrical release in the series. Returning as writer and director, Mancini has Chucky revert to his original plan of action as a straightforward horror-action thriller, eliminating much of the dark humor seen in the previous movies although there are a few moments here and there that are pretty comical. Audiences are reminded once more that an otherwise innocent-looking doll is in fact possessed by the soul of the viciously diabolical serial killer Charles Lee Ray, and he's ready to play "Kill All the Adults" with a gullible child.
With excellent cinematography by Michael Marshall, Mancini also brings back that dark, sinister air of mystery and suspense long missing in the series since the first sequel went in the offbeat cartoon-like direction. Looking like he's gained a few pounds around the face, Chucky (voiced by Brad Dourif) arrives wrapped in a large box at the creepy Victorian house of paraplegic Nica (Fiona Dourif) and her mother, Sarah (Chantal Quesnelle). The original sender of the package quickly becomes a guessing game of sorts as viewers try to determine who and why, especially after the over-protective mom is stabbed in the chest later that night. Answers are, of course, withheld until close to the end, and while not exactly mind-blowing, they do provide a nice twist that connects the movie to events in the original Child's Play.
Set a few years after the last film, Chucky's return has him back to his usual naughtiness of wanting to possess the body of a child, which in this case is Nica's little niece Alice (Summer H. Howell). She's at the house for grandma's funeral with her overbearing mom Barb (Danielle Bisutti), her dad (Brennan Elliott) and their live-in nanny Jill (Maitland McConnell). As our devilish plastic hero begins dispatching this unlikeable lot, which doesn't include Nica or Alice, Mancini nicely paces the killing spree with a patient, scary malice, having the doll run from out the shadows, the pitter-patter of his feet scurrying across the wood floor with hair-raising echoes. This latest chapter may have been relegated to a direct-to-video release, but the ultimate joy of Curse of Chucky is seeing Chucky's gleeful return to the macabre and twisted.
Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray
Scream Factory brings Curse of Chucky to 4K Ultra HD as a two-disc Collector's Edition combo pack. The triple-layered, UHD100 disc, which contains the unrated version of the movie, sits comfortably opposite a Region A locked, BD50 disc on the opposing panel. The Blu-ray disc also contains the unrated, 97-minute version along with the R-rated, 95-minute cut, and both discs are housed inside the standard black keepcase with a cardboard slipcover. At startup, the disc goes straight to a static screen with the usual selection along the bottom left side of the screen and music playing in the background.
Unlike the first five movies in the series, this sixth installment was not given the same treatment for its Ultra HD debut, and it would seem that the 2K digital intermediate of the unrated version has been simply remastered to 4K. So there is, at least, that. Shot entirely on Arri Alexa digital cameras, the upscaled transfer doesn't offer a significant jump over its HD counterpart, but overall, the HEVC H.265 encode is nonetheless a satisfying step up.
The 1.78:1 image enjoys an appreciable uptick in overall clarity with better-defined details of the beautiful Victorian house and the various objects decorating the background. Interestingly, the contrast balance doesn't receive much of a noteworthy boost, which has to do with the photographic intentions of the filmmakers, giving the visuals a grayish, somber overtone and can look rather flat. Nevertheless, whites are brighter and pop with a radiant intensity in some spots, and specular highlights glow with a crisper, tighter luminosity, allowing for slightly better detailing. Black levels are markedly inkier and accurately rendered with improved gradational variations in the various shades while shadow delineation is strong for the most part, but a few of the darkest, poorly-lit moments can slightly obscure the finer details within the bleakest, murkiest corners. The most noteworthy aspect of this Dolby Vision HDR presentation is the improved palette, boasting a wider and more lavish array of colors, especially the deep, crimson reds of blood. Facial complexions appear healthy and accurate, revealing every pore, wrinkle and negligible blemish.
Overall, it's not a significant upgrade over the Blu-ray, but it is a welcomed step up nonetheless. (Dolby Vision HDR Video Rating: 80/100)
After some back-and-forth comparisons with the previous Blu-ray release, I did not detect any significantly discernable difference, so this appears to be the same highly entertaining and surprisingly good DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack. Although an object-based audio option would have been a much-welcomed upgrade, this largely front-heavy presentation nonetheless comes with several great moments of discrete effects in the surrounds. It's not always consistent, but the crashing of thunder and the sounds of pouring rain in the distance fill the room on various occasions, generating an amusingly dark and creepy atmosphere. Other times, the pitter-patter of Chucky running across the floor is distinctly heard moving from one side of the room to the other with flawless panning. The design also does splendidly well when applying the receivers' Dolby Surround or DTS: Neural:X up-mixing functionality, effortlessly spreading many of those atmospherics into the overheads.
The music of Joseph LoDuca bleeds into the rears and satisfyingly envelops the listener while also broadening the fronts with an engaging and welcoming soundstage. Dynamics and acoustics never really extend in the upper ranges, but the lossless mix maintains good clarity and is fairly detailed. Low bass delivers some powerful impact and weight to various action sequences. Separation between channels is well-balanced with plenty of fidelity and warmth while vocals are precise and intelligible in the center. (Audio Rating: 84/100)
For this UHD edition, Scream Factory ports over the same set of supplements from the previous release and ups the ante with three new featurettes housed in the accompanying Blu-ray disc.
Chucky is back to his old deadly tricks with a sinister glee and a macabre, menacing twinkle in his smile. Written and directed by Don Mancini, Curse of Chucky may be the first in the franchise not released theatrically and going straight to home video, but thankfully, that's not a sign of its quality and ability to deliver some delightfully fun and twisted horror, making it a great sixth installment to the series. The sixth entry lands on 4K Ultra HD with an excellent Dolby Vision HDR presentation and an awesome DTS-HD MA soundtrack, providing a strong step up over its Blu-ray counterpart. Along with the same bonus material as before, Scream Factory adds a trio of new bonuses to entice fans. Overall, the UHD edition makes for a welcomed and Recommended addition to the 4K horror collection.
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