April 23, 2024

Living with Chucky 2023 Movie Review

Living with Chucky
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Living with Chucky 2023 Movie Review

A filmmaker who grew up alongside Chucky the killer doll seeks out the other families surrounding the Child’s Play films as they recount their experiences working on the ongoing franchise and what it means to be a part of the, “Chucky” family.

Reaching back in my foggy horror-cluttered brain, I believe the first two horror movies I ever watched were the original Little Shop of Horrors (which admittedly is more macabre comedy), and the original Child’s Play. My older sister talked me into watching a VHS of it in secret – I believe I was five years old at the time. It goes without saying that 90-something minutes later, my My Buddy doll was chucked right into the dumpster. Mild trauma aside, this started me down my path to being completely and deeply in love with the genre.

Around the same time as this, my uncle had a Chucky doll that I was, as I was later told by my mom and dad, “totally obsessed with.” So much so that he ended up gifting it to me. This was my new Buddy. More than that, he was my Good Guy. A true friend to the bitterest of ends. Director Kyra Elise Gardner, however, has me beat by about a hundred miles. She has literally grown up with the pint-sized baddie, seeing how her father is the legendary Tony Gardner. Don’t know who at this? Well, he is a wizard of special effects, puppetry and makeup. You’ve most likely have seen his craft in such films as Hocus Pocus, Army of Darkness, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video and many more. In fact, he has, as of the time of writing, over 200 credits just in make-up effects and special effects alone. It’s through this lens that Kyra goes through a journey to stitch together not only the making of these movies but her connection with a spiritual second family in the various cast and crew.

I’ve always felt that the best documentaries have a personal thread to tether it all together. Had this just been a movie about the series of films, it would have been a damn solid and entertaining outing. However, she takes this a step further and injects a deeply personal aspect that honestly makes it as touching as it is informative. I’ve talked to a few critics that caught it during its festival run that told me the ending had them in tears. Yeah, I completely understand that reaction seeing how Kyra allows us a real glimpse into her childhood, her love for her talented father, and most importantly the challenges of having him away whilst on work. This is something that she can both relate to and also get some understanding on, from others that work in the industry.

From a technical standpoint, the movie is extremely thoughtful in how it’s laid out with interviews that are highly engaging and at times beautifully candid. I also really enjoyed that people such as Lin Shaye, Abigail Breslin and Marlon Wayans bring their unique perspective working in the genre. Moreover, for those who think these movies are just slapped together, this documentary highlights the insane hard work and sacrifice that goes into making these films. As Kyra rightly states, she missed out on time with her father and this is certainly the case for the families of the cast and crew. This also acts as a love letter to the dedicated fans that proudly wear the Childs Play legacy on their bloody Good Guy sleeves. It was a nice touch to include pictures of diehard Chucky-heads.

Living with Chucky is a wonderfully warm and joyous celebration of the Child’s Play series brought home from someone who literally grew up with this tiny terror. It’s a must-see documentary, and it’s perhaps may favorite documentary of 2022.

Living with Chucky 2023 Movie Review