If there is one thing that is amiss amongst the remakes of horror’s heavier hitters, it’s the inclusion of queer characters. There should be a queer space within the worlds of Jason, Leatherface, and Freddy (we’re not forgetting about you, Jesse). It’s really sad to see the lack of queer individuals in these remakes and other’. Yet, there is a franchise that included queer characters, storylines involving sexual identity discover, and continues that throughout each revision of the franchise. That franchise is Child’s Play, especially the “… of Chucky” entries.

Chucky’s inclusion is in huge part to the reign holder of the franchise, Don Mancini, who is queer. With Bride of Chucky (1998) and especially Seed of Chucky (2004), the inclusion was spot on. While either of those seem more apropos for Queer Frights, they don’t necessarily fit the theme of The Return Month here at Nightmare on Film Street. What does is the sixth entry in the franchise, 2013’s Curse of Chucky.

 

 

Upon first watch, and without any prior knowledge of what comes during and after the film, one would assume that they’re looking at a remake of the franchise. A Good Guy Doll mysteriously arrives at the home of Sarah (Chantal Quesnelle) and her disabled daughter, Nica (Fiona Dourif), via a package. Sarah is found dead the next morning, presumed by suicide. The rest of the family comes to pay their respects, including Nika’s sister, Barb (Danielle Bisutti), Barb’s husband, Ian (Brennan Elliott), their daughter, Alice (Summer Howell), and their nanny, Jill (Maitland McConnell). Father Frank (A. Martinez) joins, but as an aide to help Barb talk Nica into selling the house for their profit.

For the first ¾ of the film, there’s no indication of the previous four films. Heck, for a while, we aren’t even given any indication that the 100% queer representation seen in the previous film would return. The comedic tone as well as the camp have dissipated, and we are treated to a dark and ominous film, instead. This was all just a facade. Damn if Manicini didn’t fool us all!


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Midway through the film as the antics start to escalate, the facade begins to peel away. Surprise! That Good Guy Doll is the Chucky (Brad Dourif) that we all know and love. And another surprise! Barb and the nanny, Jill, are having a secret affair. Come through, another aspect of queer representation! Bride gave us a gay man, Seed gave us trans representation, and Curse has given us lesbian representation. Granted, it’s within a seedy sort of way.

 

“there is a franchise that included queer characters, storylines involving sexual identity discover, and continues that throughout each revision of the franchise. That franchise is Child’s Play, especially the “… of Chucky” entries.”

 

Adultery is just downright wrong. Barb isn’t happy with her husband thus her tryst with Jill. But is it wrong that I felt a little bad for Jill? She’s not entirely innocent in this affair, but all around, she seems like a good person. She truly cares for Alice. We never get a snide remark or groan of aggravation when it comes time to care for Alice. There’s even a bit where Jill and Ian bond at dinner before the affair is revealed which leads us to believe that it’s those two who are being sneaky. She has a great relationship with everybody in the family on many levels, and comes off as a genuine person.

She’s literally meant as victim fodder and a plot device for the film, but I liked her. While Barb may be tinkering with queer tendencies, Jill is the legit lesbian in the film. A caring, free spirited individual who just got caught up in a bad situation with her employer which led to her electric demise. This is the part where I would usually declare war on the “kill your queers” trope within horror, but knowing that Mancini knows how to respect his queer characters, I kept that declaration to a minimum.


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I did not expect to have a little “Justice for Jill” moment within these words. I believe I could be the only person in the Chuckysphere to stand on that soapbox. But it brings about my point: do we forgive the creator / writer / director when that “kill your queers” trope exists when they are queer as well? Even if in the previous entry, they created a whole storyline that revolved around the questioning of one’s sexuality, making one of the queerest mainstream horror films?

A small dilemma, I know, but as someone who looks for these sorts of things – especially in this sort of situation – it’s a question that I found myself asking. The conclusion that I came to is that, yes, we can forgive Mancini. Because there’s all sorts of other elements that come into play such as the morality of it all. Barb is cheating. Jill is aware that she’s sleeping with another person’s wife. Horror is all about coming down on those with even the slightest bit of morality issues. Jill received her comeuppance, and so did Barb. Both of their deaths dealt with eyes so there’s something there with that sort of comeuppance. Something about “eye for an eye.”

While not the queerest film in the Chuckyverse, it’s definitely not the straightest. It brought up some questions concerning its story, and made this queer look a little deeper that what was being presented on the surface. And it helped me realize that I stand firmly on the “Justice for Jill” soapbox.

 

“I did not expect to have a little “Justice for Jill” moment within these words. I believe I could be the only person in the Chuckysphere to stand on that soapbox.”

 

Such a sneaky little reboot full of sneaky little characters with sneaky little secrets. What did you think of a Curse of Chucky? Were you fooled by its third act return to the franchise’s roots? Is there anyone out there who questioned Mancini’s use of his queer characters in the film? Did you stand and clap as franchise all stars returned at the end of the film further solidifying that this was no remake?

 

Let us know on our Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, and in the official Nightmare on Film Street Discord. Not a social media fan? Get more horror delivered straight to your inbox by joining the Neighbourhood Watch Newsletter.