MONSTERZERO NJ’S BEST/FAVORITE HORROR FLICKS of 2021!
It’s time to look back at the past year and see what horror flicks left an impression. This year’s bests are a healthy mix of high-profile chillers and indie productions. There are a few titles here initially released in 2020, or earlier, at festivals or overseas, but didn’t get an official release, theatrically, to VOD, or home media, till 2021. Obviously, it would be unfair not to include them! So, without further ado, here are my ten best/favorite horror movies of 2021!…
…along with three honorable mention streaming series!…
(To get to our reviews of these titles use the search engine at the top of the page!)
HONORABLE MENTIONS TV SERIES
Cristina Rodlo Is an undocumented immigrant rooming in a boarding house from Hell in No One Gets Out Alive.
Child’s Play threequel opened a mere nine months after the second installment and is the last Child’s Play movie involving Chucky’s pursuit of Andy Barclay. Flick takes place eight years after part 2, with Andy (Justin Whalin) now being sixteen and sent to military school. The Play Pals Company has decided to restart production of the Good Guys doll line and uses the plastic from the unfinished models still left in the warehouse where the Child’s Play 2had it’s finale. Of course the bloody melted hunk of plastic that was Chucky is included and soon Chucky is back once again in action. He tracks Andy to the military academy, but soon sets his sights on shy eight year-old Ronald Tyler (Jeremy Sylvers) as his new host. It’s up to Andy and his new romantic interest Cadet Kristin De Silva (Perrey Reeves) to stop him.
Third flick is directed by Jack Bender from a script by Don Mancini and wisely is the last film in the Andy Barclay story arc, as this installment shows it was running out of gas. It’s the same old shenanigans with a wisecracking Chucky killing anyone who gets in his way or pisses him off. The kills are getting routine and only the carnival funhouse set climax shows a little life. It’s not very scary or suspenseful, but is competently made and Dourif is as fun as ever as the serial killer in a doll’s body. It’s bloody and the military academy setting adds a few wrinkles, but otherwise the series was showing signs of needing some sort of rebooting if it was to continue. One does miss little Alex Vincent, but at least they tried to keep it from getting too stale by upgrading Andy to a teenager and even giving him a love interest with the pretty and spunky Kristin. When he is not trying to save Ronald and convince everyone Chucky is back, he is getting bullied by academy a-hole, Cadet Lt. Col. Brett C. Shelton (Travis Fine). The Chucky and gore FX are still very well done and still help maintain the illusion that the doll is possessed and and alive. It’s a functional enough sequel and has it’s moments, but one understands why the series was given a break and and a new direction after this flick performed only moderately at the box office.
The cast is again fine. Justin Whalin is good as Andy. He evokes the character, but appropriately eight years older. He is a solid hero as being a teen helps him go on the offensive for the first time. Brad Dourif is still excellent in his vocal performance as Chucky. He is still as twisted and malevolent as ever, and getting the best dialogue in the movie…as he should. Jeremy Sylvers is likable and sympathetic as the shy, young Ronald and he makes a good target for Chucky’s plans to resurrect himself out of his plastic shell. Perrey Reeves is energetic and resilient as the tough, but cute Cadet Kristin De Silva. She makes a nice love interest for the now grown Andy Barclay. Travis Fine is a dislikable villain as the academy douche Lt. Col. Shelton and movie vet Andrew Robinson shows up as the twisted academy barber Sgt. Botnick.
In conclusion, Child’s Play 3 is an OK third installment, but shows a series in need of a fresh coat of paint. Andy is now a teen and that and the military academy location add a little something new, but not enough to really makes this an equal to either of it’s predecessors. Chucky creator Don Mancini realized it was time for a change and after a seven year hiatus, Chucky would return with a new story direction, new tone and a love interest of his own in 1998.
Child’s Play sequel takes place two years after the first installment with poor Andy (Alex Vincent) now living with foster parents (Jenny Agutter and Gerrit Graham), as his mother is institutionalized for corroborating her son’s story about a killer doll. As for Chucky, the Play Pals Corporation has regained possession of the remains of the Chucky possessed Good Guys doll and uses the inner mechanisms to build a new doll, in order to prove to investors, product malfunction was not a factor in the incident. Once reconstructed, Chucky resumes his hunt for Andy, to once again try to take possession of him. Obviously, the killer doll leaves a trail of bodies in his wake.
Second installment in the popular franchise is this time directed by John Lafia from a script by Don Mancini. It’s not quite an equal, but is an efficient enough sequel. Chucky is up to his old tricks and the kills are played a little bit more for laughs this time, though some are still potent and bloody. Chucky isn’t quite as scary as he was the first time around, as the novelty has worn off, but still can be threatening and his pursuit of Andy, who is again not believed, still is effective. The FX portraying the killer doll are very convincing prosthetics and the slightly larger budget gives the flick a chance to open up a bit with an impressive and fun last act chase and showdown at the Play Pals factory, echoing the climax of The Terminator. There is some suspense and a few chills, though one can see the franchise is trying to have a bit more fun here with a more wisecracking villain.
The cast is fine. Alex Vincent is still very likable and sympathetic as the little boy being pursued by a serial killer in a doll’s body. Brad Dourif is once again excellent in his vocal performance as Chucky. He is twisted, intimidating and gives so much life to a plastic prosthetic, while milking his dialogue for all it’s worth. Agutter and Graham are serviceable as Andy’s foster parents Joanne and Phil Simpson. They are not as endearing as Catherine Hicks’ spunky single mom Karen, but they are likable enough, especially Agutter, who is far more sympathetic to Andy’s traumatic past. Rounding out is Christine Elise as Andy’s tough, street-smart foster sister Kyle, who joins him in the fight against Chucky, and Grace (Galaxy of Terror) Zabriske as the kindly head of the boarding house Andy has been staying at before being adopted by the Simpsons.
Overall, Child’s Play 2 is a fun second installment. Chucky is still a fairly effective villain and there are some suspenseful sequences, some effective kills and a few chills. It’s not quite an equal to the classic original, but at least still played the franchise somewhat seriously before future installments got a lot goofier.
It’s been four years since horror icon Chucky’s triumphant return to form in Curse Of Chucky. Now he returns again, this time roaming the halls of a medium security institute for the mentally ill. This installment finds Nica (Fiona Dourif) declared mentally insane after taking blame for the murders Chucky committed in the Pierce house and she’s been institutionalized since. Meanwhile, Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) has been keeping and tormenting Chucky’s possessed head and Nica’s doctor (Michael Therriault) decides to bring in a Good Guys Doll as part of her therapy. It also seems, though, that Chucky has been busy learning new spells and can inhabit more than one doll…and as more Good Guy Dolls show up at the institute, via Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly) and Andy, all hell breaks loose with Nica at the center of it. With more than one Chucky stalking the halls and Andy and Tiffany on premises, the inmates will soon be running the asylum!
Don Mancini returns again to write and direct and again delivers one of the best of the series. Cult of Chucky is an absolute blast of bloody fun as the demented Chucky starts to off the inmates and staff of the Harrogate institute, all the while tormenting Nica. The gore is plentiful and the kills inventive and Mancini takes full advantage of the sterile environment of the institute in contrast to the old haunted house style setting of the last flick. He giddily splashes the clean white walls with bright red blood and really has come into his own as a visual director with some Kubrick-esque shots and hallucination sequences. He balances the mood very well here with playing things fairly straight, yet keeping and honing the series’ twisted sense of humor, especially in portraying Chucky’s enthusiasm for what he does. He also gets to have some fun with the fact that Chucky can inhabit more than one doll at once and there are at least three roaming the dimly lit halls at one point. Chucky also gets to delight in the fact that only Nica knows he’s real and the rest of the inhabitants are in dangerous denial. It’s simply a really fun, stylish and gory time with one of horrors most famous icons in top form, thanks to Mancini’s clever script and direction. Sure there area few plot holes, such as how did Chucky research new spells if he was only a disembodied head in Andy’s possession, but otherwise this is a solid entry in the Child’s Play franchise.
The cast are all in top form, too. Brad Dourif once again performs Chucky’s vocals with gusto and at this point, it’s hard to imagine anyone else doing it. Daughter Fiona Dourif is also solid as Nica. She takes the material seriously and plays the role with conviction, until the last act where the script allows her to go a little over-the-top and she has fun with what she’s required to do. Alex Vincent certainly is having a good time as the adult Andy and Jennifer Tilly is a delight as the demented Tiffany, playing it as if there was never a long break in-between films. The rest of the cast do well in portraying various inmates and staff, many of whom fall to Chucky’s homicidal antics.
This installment was really entertaining. Don Mancini has found a way to revive this series with two recent quality installments that further the adventures of Chucky and yet delightfully pay tribute to the earlier chapters in the franchise. Where most horror series slowly fizzle out as they go along, Don Mancini has found a way to keep this one fresh, inventive and lots of bloody fun. Sure there are a few plot holes, but you are willing to overlook them because you’re having such a gory good time.
It’s been almost ten years since we last saw Chucky, the homicidal doll possessed by the spirit of deceased serial killer Charles Lee Ray, but Curse Of Chucky brings him back in all his blood spattering glory…and turns out to be one of the best entries in the series.
The story takes place in an old house owned and lived in by Sarah Pierce (Chantal Quesnel) and her wheelchair-ridden young daughter, Nica (Fiona Dourif). When they receive a strange package that contains an old Good Guys doll named Chucky (once again voice by Brad Dourif), things obviously start to go wrong in the Pierce home. To start, Nica wakes up to find her mother dead, an apparent suicide…or so we are led to believe. Her sister Barb (Danielle Bisutti) arrives to console her along with her husband Ian (Brennan Elliott), daughter Alice (Summer Howell) and nanny Jill (Maitland McConnell). Soon a night of family drama turns into a night of blood curdling terror as Chucky begins to slaughter the unsuspecting occupants one by one.
Directed and written by series writer and Seed Of Chucky helmer Don Mancini, Curse returns Chucky to his more menacing roots and for the most part jettison’s the goofy humor that permeated the last two installments. What we get is a nice and atmospheric haunted house slasher, that has some real nice tension and suspense along with a few effective and gruesome kills. The added element of Nica being confined to a wheelchair is used to maximum effect by director Mancini and there are some really intense sequences, especially when Nica comes to realize who and what Chucky is and she becomes his next target. There are some really nice surprises, too, especially when the film links to the previous chapters and we get some fun nods to past Chucky flicks that I won’t spoil here. The FX bringing the killer doll to life are some of the best in the series and the gore effects are well done and there is plenty of the red stuff spilled.
The film isn’t perfect. There are some flaws, mostly the film looses momentum somewhat during its final scenes which are fun, but in an effort to explain Chucky’s arrival in the Pierce house and why he is there, we are treated to flashbacks and scenes that interrupt the tension and take us out of the confinement of the spooky old house, which to this point added a lot of atmosphere and the isolation inside it added some tension. The scenes are fun as said, but don’t carry the same intensity of what preceded it. The film kind of ends on a much lighter note, more akin to the last two movies, while the earlier scenes of the film match the original’s more serious tone.
Flaws aside, this is a solid and entertaining horror flick that deserved better than being dumped direct to home media. It’s a welcome return of a modern horror icon and a nice addition to his movie legacy. Watch through the credits for a fun post credits scene that should delight and amuse fans of this long running series.
Child’s Play is a fun 80s horror thriller that proves that a talented director can turn even a silly premise like this into an entertaining movie. The film opens with psychotic killer Charles “Chucky” Lee Ray (Brad Dourif) being hunted and shot by police. The mortally wounded maniac finds temporary solace in a toy store long enough to use his skills in Voodoo to transfer his soul into a Good Guys doll before his body expires. Enter widowed mom Karen (Catherine Hicks) and her 6 year old son Andy (Alex Vincent) who is a huge Good Guys fan and wants nothing more then an expensive talking Good Guys doll for his birthday. But when gal pal Maggie (Dinah Manoff) finds a street peddler selling one, she alerts Catherine who buys one for Andy. The doll announces itself as Chucky and no sooner is the doll in the apartment when bad things start to happen like babysitting Maggie taking a dive out of the apartment window. When Andy is found at the scene of another death, that of a former associate of Charles Lee Ray, the police begin to expect something is wrong with Andy, but the boy insists it was Chucky’s doing and his mom starts to investigate the doll’s origins, refusing to believe her son is a killer. But the more she investigates the more she starts to believe the impossible, that the soul of a killer inhabits the doll and she, her son and anyone that crossed Ray are in mortal danger… but who will believe her? Worse still is that Ray must transfer his soul into Andy’s body as his doll body becomes more human and thus vulnerable as time goes by.
Directed and co-written by Tom Holland, who also gave us the 80s classic vampire flick Fright Night, Child’s Play is a fun thriller despite it’s silly premise and the fact that the killer is a 3 foot tall doll with the voice of Brad Dourif. Holland and his cast, including Fright Night‘s Chris Sarandon as Det. Mike Norris, take the proceedings seriously and not making a joke out of it helps us to go along with it to enough of a degree that it entertains us. As a child with a pretty demanding role, Alex Vincent is quite good as Andy, which also goes a long way in making this flick work. Holland crafts some suspense which is an achievement since our villain is a plastic doll in overalls. He imbues Chucky with a lethality that, along with Dourif’s vocals, which give him quite the personality and some excellent FX to bring him to life, also help make this work far better then it should. The film moves very quickly which gives us little time to question plot holes or the sheer audacity of what we are watching. Once the film is over, you’ve had a good enough time to not really care that you just spent 90 minutes watching a homicidal maniac possessed doll killing people.
The film’s not perfect, the story moves a little too quick for it’s own good and it basically get’s it’s principles believing there is a killer doll on the loose far too early and easily when it was far more intriguing to have Chucky let Andy take the blame and having his mother deal with the possibility her son is a killer. The Terminator-like finale is borderline ridiculous, but somehow works and works well. But by the time the credits roll, you’ve let Holland and Co. convince you to take this nonsense seriously enough to enjoy yourself, so you can forgive the film some of it’s flaws and enjoy the fact that you’ve spent the last 90 minutes in fear of a kid’s toy.
Fun flick that created a horror icon and inspired a franchise that got more twisted and outrageous as the series when on… and mostly in a good way.