Welcome to Haunted MTL’s series of Chucky reviews, this week tackling Chucky S1 E1 – “Death By Misadventure.”
This series of reviews will be spoiler-free for the events of each episode but will bring up plot points from previous episodes as needed to contextualize the current week’s events. For a spoiler-centric view, please turn to the podcast Kids’ Stuff for a detailed discussion.
Chucky – S1 E1 – “Death By Misadventure”
It is a homecoming of sorts for America’s favorite killer doll when he finds himself for sale at a Hackensack, NJ, yardsale. He is purchased by a bullied teen, Jake, who intends to use the doll for an art project. Soon enough, Chucky’s attempts to save his plastic skin pull Jake into a world of murder, revenge, and what might be a growing acceptance of himself.
How Was It?
Chucky is part of a franchise that translates incredibly well to the serialization of television based on this initial outing. However, this isn’t surprising given the series has maintained a strict continuity since the first film in 1988. It’s an incalculably strange move for the world of slasher horror, where characters and plot points are jettisoned from each entry, and soft reboots are common. None of that for Chucky, though. The first episode is clever in rhyming its story with previous entries in the franchise. It evokes scenes and characters in a new generation in respectful enough ways without feeling like a rote copy. It helps that the first episode is in the hands of series creator Don Mancini, who proves quite capable of the task.
The performances and style across the board are pretty satisfying. It feels like modern Chucky, akin to Curse and Cult, and contemporary music keeps the show feeling fresh and of the time. Brad Dourif sounds more comfortable here than in the previous two films. He seems to have settled into the voice a bit, given how his voice has changed over the years. Devon Sawa plays two characters in some clever stunt casting that lasts long enough not to get silly. It’s pretty fun.
The series, however, lives and dies based on the performances of the kids. After all, this is Chucky vs. the zoomers. Thankfully, the series lead (arguably co-lead with Dourif), Zachary Arthur, is great. We get the sense that Jake Wheeler is a generally good but troubled kid. But it also seems to be a little darkness that it seems that Chucky is going to want to bring out.
Björgvin Arnarson as Devon Arnarson, a podcasting classmate, seems fine. However, it might be a bit too early to tell. I wonder if he is more aware of the significance of the Good Guy doll than he is showing. Teo Briones’ Junior Wheeler, Jake’s cousin, has some secret. Nothing about him stands out beyond arrogant cattiness, yet.
The real presence this week comes from Alyvia Alyn Lind as Lexy Cross. She is a teen ripped from an R-rated cut of Mean Girls. She’s fantastic and easily hateable and plays arrogant and utterly destroyed quite well. It will be interesting to see how her arc plays out in the coming weeks.
As for the look and feel of the Chucky doll in the show? Pitch perfect. The animatronic motion is incredibly fluid. Indeed, the design feels closer to the appearance of the original film than the Good Guy dolls of Curse and Cult. The fact that the series has gone on long enough to leverage some impressive technology is a blessing.
As a first outing, this is an exciting way to kick off a whole new era of murderous fun! Chucky – S1 E1 – “Death By Misadventure” is worth five Cthulhus.(5 / 5)
Chucky S1 E1 – Kill Count and Spotlight
The show sets up about 11 kills within the last year in Hackensack. However, we get an additional three – only one of which is human. It is a very technical count, admittedly. Animal fans, be warned. With that being said, we only see one of the kills in the episode. Yet it is certainly novel enough given the franchise as a whole and hilarious and horrifying in pretty equal measure. Is projectile vomit a lethal weapon? I’d argue yes based on what we see in the first episode.
Seeds of Chucky
Some elements of this week’s episode are callbacks to previous installments of the series. They may hint at the return of key figures from the past. Here are some of the highlights.
- We get some references to some of the previous films via an internet search and a local podcast produced by Jake’s classmate, Devon.
- A set of basement stairs evokes Child’s Play 2. As does a certain moment with a trash can.
- Some very specific dialogue toward the end of the episode evokes Karen Barclay’s experience with Chucky before he reveals himself to her in Child’s Play (1988). We also get a fun callback regarding batteries.
- We also will be diving into the life of Charles Lee Ray, further back than the events of Curse of Chucky, which was just prior to his death.
- A mysterious phone call from a man interested in Jake’s listing to sell off Chucky seems to know a lot about the doll. Who could it be?
- Speaking of blink and you miss it cameos, SyFy has confirmed a key character in the franchise shows up early on. Keep an eye on for a red dress.
- Moreover, while not Chucky-specific, the ending to the episode has shades of John Carpenter’s Halloween.
We will be covering the show episode-by-episode on Kids’ Stuff – A Chucky Podcast. However, don’t expect spoilers in these written reviews. You can expect them to fly during the podcast.
If you want to catch the first episode for free, please check out the premiere below, provided by USA Network’s YouTube account. You can see it Tuesdays at 10 PM PST on SyFy and USA Network.
Shutter Island (2010): Review
Leonardo Dicaprio’s films rarely disappoint. It was interesting to see him flex different acting muscles in this psychological thriller Shutter Island alongside Mark Ruffalo and Michelle Williams. When I say that I was not expecting such a turn in the story, I mean that my jaw was pretty much on the floor the entire time. Without any further ado, let’s dive into its mastery, shall we?
A cliché setup done right
We have been here before a million times. A character stumbles into a scene to solve a mystery. Everyone is acting just the right amount of suspicion to make you wonder. Dicaprio’s Edward ‘Teddy’ travels to an extremely remote island where a woman goes missing from a psychiatric institution. He’s experiencing migraines and flashbacks to his murdered wife while receiving little to no help from the hospital staff.
Teddy soon suspects that the hospital is experimenting on patients which fuels his theories on what happened to the missing woman. Things take even more of a turn when his partner also disappears. Unsurprisingly, everyone insists Teddy came to the island alone. Feeling like he’s losing his mind, our protagonist finds out that this is exactly the case. He is a patient in the hospital and the entire investigation is an attempt to get him to understand the truth.
While the whole ‘it was all in your head’ trope has a bad rep for the fans of any genre, this film uses it masterfully. Watching it for the first time not knowing what to expect is obviously a shock and then watching it again, looking at all the clues that were the which you missed – that’s a treat on its own. After all, there’s nothing inherently wrong with using cliches if they are done the right way.
Things that go bump in our minds
A huge part of this movie’s storyline is Andrew’s inability to process the truth. The roots for it stretch far beyond the plot twist. Andrew is unable to acknowledge that his wife is mentally ill and believes that moving them to the countryside will fix everything. After she murders their children, he is further pushed into the world of delusion, convincing himself to be a hero because he couldn’t save his own family.
It’s interesting to note that in his delusion, Andrew is the one who set fire to their house. Is this a little sliver of his mind whispering the truth to him? Is it his subconscious villainizing himself out of contempt, searching for answers that are never going to come? Andrew’s psychiatrist pointed out that his moment of clarity has happened before, only to be undone quite quickly. Perhaps it was easier for Andrew to shut it off rather than live with the knowledge that he could’ve done something to prevent a terrible tragedy.
Shutter Island is a movie that provides both the entertainment value you would expect from a suspense thriller and a deeper layer of thought. Coated with a perfect atmosphere and amazing acting, it’s a piece that will definitely hold the test of time. (4.5 / 5)
Wheel of Time, Daughter of The Night
We’ve reached episode four of Wheel of Time, which means we’re halfway through the season. While it doesn’t seem like much has happened so far, this is the episode where things start heating up.
We begin this episode with a flashback. Ishamael is raising something dark and twisted. As we watch, it takes the shape of a woman.
More on that in a bit.
Meanwhile, Nynaeve is healing from her time in the arches. She is quiet and withdrawn. She’s also awkward and uncomfortable around Egwene now that she’s initiated and Egwene is not. Her new friendship with Elayne isn’t helping.
But the three girls come together when Liandrin tells Nynaeve that Perrin has been captured by the Seanchan.
However, Perrin is no longer in the clutches of the Seanchan. He was rescued by Elyas and a pack of beautiful wolves. Beautiful and deadly AF by the way. If you have any fear of dogs, this episode might not help that.
Elyas explains to Perrin that he is a Wolf Brother. This means that he can communicate with the wolves, and eventually will gain some of their abilities. While Perrin and Elyas don’t exactly get off on the right foot, he does find a fast friendship with one specific wolf. After a time, he introduces himself by showing Perrin an image of himself jumping up and down. From this, Perrin assumes his name is Hopper.
Finally, we return to Rand. He and Selene have been off in the mountains. They haven’t done much more than each other so far.
And that’s exactly what it appears they’re about to do when Moiraine bursts into the cottage and cuts Selene’s throat.
Rand is surprised and furious until Moiraine explains that the woman he knows as Selene is the Dark Friend Lanfear. With this shocking revelation, the two run off into the night.
It should be a surprise to no one that I loved the wolves in this episode. Hopper himself was worth an extra Cthulhu. But this is not just because dogs are cute. It’s also because the dog playing Hopper just does a great job.
On a more serious note, I loved how Nynaeve responded upon coming back to the real world. She isn’t okay.
And it’s a good thing that she isn’t. Too often in fiction we don’t see the fallout of emotional damage. Hell, we don’t usually see realistic fallout from physical damage.
But she is hurt by what she experienced. And you can tell. That’s realistic character building, and we don’t see that enough.
I also really appreciate the special effects in this episode. The first time we see Lanfear, she’s eerie. She’s frightening. Part of this is thanks to Natasha O’Keeffe, who does a great job. But the effects are what really sells this.
What didn’t work
If Wheel of Time has any fault, it’s that there is far too much sitting about and talking about things. In this case, there’s a lot of standing about and talking about things. Some of this was necessary, and some of it could have been done better. Honestly, there just has to be a better way to convey that characters are struggling.
This was most apparent with Rand and Selene/Lanfear. Honestly, anytime the two of them were on screen it was a great time for me to catch up on Instagram.
This might come as a surprise to anyone who hasn’t read the books, but Rand is supposed to be the main character. And here we are, four episodes into an eight-episode season, and so far all he’s done is mess about with his emo girlfriend!
That being said, the story is starting to pick up. With four episodes left, I can’t wait to see how far we go.
(3 / 5)
Elevator Game, a Film Review
Elevator Game (2023) is directed by Rebekah McKendry and is the first feature-length production of Fearworks.
Elevator Game (2023) is directed by Rebekah McKendry and is the first feature-length production of Fearworks. It adapts the supernatural myth and creepypasta of the same name while providing an original plot. This unrated Shudder exclusive stars Gino Anania, Samantha Halas, and Verity Marks. In full disclosure, I had the opportunity to interview Gino Anania and Stefan Brunner about the film.
Ryan seeks to find answers to his sister’s mysterious disappearance. To do this, he infiltrates a myth-busting web series that seems to have some ties to her final confirmed moments. Desperate to force a confrontation, he encourages them to play the elevator game. Unfortunately, there seems to be more truth to the myth than expected.
What I Like about Elevator Game & as an Adaptation
I am lucky to have additional insight into the development hell this movie overcame due to COVID. It’s commendable that the film manages to make it of that, even if it requires a lengthy delay of the film.
Usually, I provide a separate section for adaptation quality. However, the source material remains the ritual, which Elevator Game performs accurately. While the myth inspires many creepypastas, Elevator Game doesn’t directly take or adapt any of these works from what I’ve seen. Instead, it makes its own film based on the legend.
As the Fifth Floor Woman, Samantha Halas creates an eerie and disturbing character. While I won’t go so far as to say terrifying, she certainly makes an impression. The revelation that the stunts and performance are all her, as an actual contortionist, I give her more credit.
Gino Anania, given a more complex role than most of his cast members, really does bring a strong performance that creates either friction or synergy with his cast members. I suppose I wanted more of these interactions as some cut sooner than appreciated.
Another amusing element is that the entire motivation for the plot to follow is a forced advertisement from an investor. Something about the chaos being a product of appeasing some investors feels uncomfortably real.
The alternate reality remains surprisingly effective. To be clear, it’s not impressively realistic but stylistic. It genuinely seems like an alternate world with a skewered impression.
Tired Tropes or Trigger Warning
I feel weird mentioning this, but endangering a sister’s life to push the brother’s story forward seems a common trend beyond one form of media.
No discredit to the actors, but the romance feels rushed and unnecessary. Without going into too much detail, to avoid spoilers, there is synergy between the actors but little chemistry in the plot.
What I Dislike or Considerations
Elevator Game remains set in providing a B-movie experience. Its tight budget leaves little room to surprise the viewer visually. While I am surprised at what it accomplishes, it’s far from overwhelming. This film also remains the first production of Fearworks, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. I’m interested in the future, but Elevator Game leaves much to grow from.
Rebekah McKendry may have a directorial style that influences dialogue, but the line delivery evokes an overexpression that’s common in Lovecraftian films. I say this not as a direct negative, but it remains a required taste best known before viewing. As this isn’t Lovecraftian, I fear it removes some of the reality and tension of those haunting elements.
Many of the characters feel underdeveloped, making me wonder if cutting these roles might lead to more invested characters. While the performances hit their marks, a tighter cast might give each role more to work toward. As this is a tight cast already, it seems an odd issue to rectify.
Elevator Game provides an interesting B-movie experience for those who know the legend. For those expecting something different, this film may not work for you. This film overcame a lot to exist but doesn’t break the mold. While I am excited to see Fearworks pursue further ventures toward its ambitious mission statement, I find Elevator Game falling short of its goal.
(2 / 5)