Jenny AgutterGerrit GrahamBrad DourifChild's Play
Child's Play 2
Medium: film
Year: 1990
Director: John Lafia
Writer: Don Mancini
Keywords: horror, slasher
Country: USA
Actor: Alex Vincent, Jenny Agutter, Gerrit Graham, Christine Elise, Brad Dourif, Grace Zabriskie, Peter Haskell, Beth Grant, Greg Germann, Raymond Singer, Charles Meshack, Stuart Mabray, Matt Roe, Herbie Braha
Format: 84 minutes
Series: << Child's Play >>
Website category: Horror modern
Review date: 9 September 2008
It has its defenders, but personally I think it's a failure. It's not without tension, but I wouldn't call it particularly scary. However it's also too early in the series to be particularly funny. It's never actually bad and it seems better-regarded than Child's Play 3, but that doesn't add up to a recommendation. There were stretches where I got a bit bored, I'm afraid.
Andy's back, still played by little Alex Vincent, but his mum's been put in psychiatric care for refusing to admit that dolls can't kill people. No Catherine Hicks. Thus Andy finds himself getting sent off to a rather nice foster family, played by Jenny Agutter and Gerrit Graham. I like those actors. Agutter keeps her clothes on this time, but she's still solid as the childless mum who's clearly filling an emotional need with fostering. You're less likely to have heard of Graham, but he's done a fair amount of genre work too over the years. He's appeared in various US SF TV shows, but I know him best as Bud Oliver aka Bud the C.H.U.D. He's slightly pompous here, as usual, but still a decent chap.
The problem of course is that they don't believe Andy. No one believes Andy. Let's face it, no one would, although I did notice that killer doll stories seem to have made a big enough media splash that the Good Guy company decided to rebuild Chucky in the hope of countering all this bad publicity. Big mistake. Anyway the original film made a theme out of boneheaded adults refusing to believe the impossible, so got away with it. Here, not so much. We've seen the first film. We know what's going on. Agutter and Graham are only behaving exactly as we would in those circumstances, but doing so still makes them look like idiots. Chucky gets six victims this time and only one of them hadn't at all been asking for it. Sometimes they're merely a bit annoying. At other times you want to reach into the TV screen and murder them yourself.
Nevertheless Agutter and Graham are the most interesting thing about this film and things only started going downhill once they were out of the picture. The original film wasn't really about Andy. He was important, but Catherine Hicks and Chris Sarandon were the viewpoint characters and did most of the acting work. Here we've got our child star (a bit wooden) and a 25-year-old playing a teenager (about as good as the child). The latter would be one Christine Elise, who I'm sure would improve in later years but is pretty poor here. Oh, she's likeable. In the first half of the film I even thought she did a good job. She's playing a serial foster child, forever being sent from family to family. Such a character could have been a twat, but Elise makes her quite pleasant. However she's terrible as soon as the action begins, barely acting at all as she and everyone around her is put in mortal peril.
That's my biggest objection to this film. I enjoyed the first half, but thereafter we only had a couple of non-actors to root for, which killed much of the tension and indeed interest that I'd been able to build up. Who lives and who dies just doesn't seem to matter.
There are further problems. The most obvious is that Chucky's objective is to possess Andy, but we know that's never going to happen. It's only the second film in the series. Bride and Seed of Chucky would have been very different had the doll been a nine-year-old. However it's a bad idea in another way too, since it tells us that Chucky doesn't want to kill Andy. Everyone else, sure. Stab 'em, strangle 'em, no problem. Andy Barclay however is as safe as houses. In what might be a record, here we have five different kinds of heroic immunity. There's the one I've already addressed, but also... He's the main character. He was in the first film. He's a child. Then finally the film's producers would never kill their golden goose by letting Chucky give up on being a famous (ish) movie monster.
Problem #2: people keep doing what Chucky says because he's holding a knife. We could debate the realism of this back and forth, but here it just looks silly. They haven't earned the fear factor that they'd built up by the end of the first film. Besides, Chucky's so unswervingly evil that it makes no sense not to run. It doesn't matter what he says. At the end of the day he's always going to want to kill you, so you'd surely stand a better chance trying to outrun those little legs than by following his orders and letting him hold that knife to your cheek.
The climax is weird. They go to a Good Guys factory full of Chucky-a-likes, yet the film never goes Gremlins on us. I was waiting and waiting. That could have been great. However I laughed my head off at Chucky's gruesome fate(s), which might just be the Best Monster Death Ever. The little fellow's practically a cartoon character anyway, so there's something hilarious about seeing him suffer a string of horrific injuries. Wile E. Coyote lives again.
He also gets a good line: "I hate kids."
This isn't the kind of film that particularly needs discussion. It's like the first one, but less good. That's all you need to know, really. I liked the way in which the emotional pain gets understated, so Agutter's feelings about her childlessness get only a hint and they don't make a big deal out of Elise's character's broken family background. She doesn't have any parents. Andy asks about them. All this backstory is there, but the film doesn't rub your face in it. Overall, this is a mildly efficient but unmemorable slasher flick with decent kills, a distinctive monster and a poorly used cast. It's okay, I suppose.