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Exploring the Enduring Family Ties of the Child’s Play Franchise

Living with Chucky

 (horror content) -     

Genre: Documentary
Year Released: 2023
Runtime: 1h 40m
Director(s): Kyra Elise Gardner
Interviews with: Abigail Breslin, Adam Hurtig, Alex Vincent, Billy Boyd, Brad Dourif, Christine Elise McCarthy, Dan Povenmire, David Kirschner, Don Mancini, Elle Lorraine, Fiona Dourif, James A. Janisse, Jennifer Tilly, John Waters, Kyra Gardner, Lin Shaye, Marlon Wayans, Tony Gardner, Tony Timpone, and many more.
Where To Watch: available on all Major VOD platforms and Screambox on April 4 in the US and Canada. Collector’s Edition Blu-ray will also be released on April 18 and will be available in the US & Canada.

RAVING REVIEW: LIVING WITH CHUCKY the genuine relationships among the “family” behind the iconic CHILD'S PLAY films. Director Kyra Elise Gardner, who once feared the infamous Chucky and Tiffany dolls as a child, takes us on a journey into her intriguing bond with the killer doll. Another central figure in the franchise, Fiona Dourif, shares her spine-chilling memories of visiting the set and listening to her father's screams while recording Chucky's voice-over work. Alex Vincent, a pivotal actor from the franchise's beginnings, recounts his long-lasting experiences and enduring friendships with the cast and crew.

The documentary sold me years ago when I read about Gardner’s ambition to get this film made. The documentary covers each movie in the series before finally exploring Kyra's connection with Chucky. That’s probably my biggest knock on the film, and I would have liked to hear more about her backstory with her father and growing up with the doll (I’m hoping the director's commentary on the blu-ray offers more insight.) She brings a unique perspective growing up with the doll's models and designs around her childhood home.

LIVING WITH CHUCKY traces the series' evolution from Don Mancini's original "Blood Buddy" screenplay to the latest installment, Cult of Chucky (2017), while briefly acknowledging (likely due to the timing of the documentary being made) the 2021 Chucky TV series. Thankfully, the 2019 remake was ignored as a whole (due to the complex rights issues or the general distaste for the film). Gardner unveils the elements that led to the franchise's cult following through interviews with actors, producers, and voice talents. Mancini's influence on his creation since 1988 is impressive, particularly as a queer creative force. Under his watchful eye, the series has thrived, eventually leading to the critically acclaimed CHUCKY TV show, where he also serves as the showrunner.

A standout feature of the franchise is using practical on-set puppet effects for Chucky, rather than CGI, which horror film enthusiasts appreciate. There was some talk in the documentary about the fanbase and their distaste for a CGI Chucky. I’m shocked they didn’t go that route in the 2019 remake.

The documentary also provides insights into Fiona Dourif's casting, her growth within the series, and her unique interactions with her father. She’s arguably become the face of the franchise, on equal ground with Alex Vincent, Jennifer Tilly, or Christine Elise from CHILD’S PLAY 2

The documentary acknowledges the sacrifices made by the families of the cast and crew and pays homage to the dedicated fans who passionately celebrate the Child's Play legacy. The thoughtful inclusion of images featuring devoted Chucky enthusiasts adds a personal touch.

The Child's Play franchise is built around the family theme. Family is forever on camera and behind it in this franchise; the fanbase has spoken that this franchise is about the passion of all involved.

LIVING WITH CHUCKY is a documentary that appeals to longtime fans, but if you’re new to Child’s Play, this is a fantastic introduction to more of the behind-the-scenes world.

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[film courtesy of CINEDIGM/SCREAMBOX]

Chris Jones
Entertainment Editor

Chris Jones is the Mail Entertainment Editor covering Movies and Television topics. He is from Washington, Illinois, and is the owner, writer, and editor of Overly Honest Reviews.