"We're Friends Till The End, Remember?"
by Joseph Perry
Living with Chucky director/cowriter Kyra Elise Gardner did just that, as her father is special effects wizard Tony Gardner, who designed the Chucky and Tiffany dolls for some of the Child’s Play film franchise features. Gardner’s enlightening documentary did two things for me: it made me appreciate the franchise more, as someone who is just a casual fan and skipped the middle two entries, and it gave me an appreciation of the family-like bonding behind the films and TV series, the latter of which really is the main aim of this film.
Living with Chucky goes through the films one by one, featuring interviews with creator, writer, and eventual director Don Mancini; actors Brad Dourif and his daughter Fiona Dourif, Jennifer Tilly, and others involved with acting or voice talent in the films; Tony Gardner and other on-screen talent and behind-the-camera personalities. Tilly is endlessly entertaining as she recalls the fun she had on camera and behind the scenes of the Child’s Play films in which she appeared, and everyone involved gives fascinating insight about the struggles and ultimate successes of the popular franchise.
The heart of the film — and it has a big one — is Kyra Elise Gardner’s focus on the strong bonds between those behind the Child’s Play movies. She grew up initially being fearful of the Chucky and Tiffany dolls, while Fiona Dourif was frightened when she visited the set and heard her father screaming in pain as he recorded his parts for Chucky being burned. They aren’t the only two who grew up being affected by the franchise, though, as Alex Vincent, who played Andy in the first two films and came back after the third and fourth sequels, discusses his longtime friendships with many cast and crew members.
Fans of the Child’s Play movies and TV series will naturally find plenty to enjoy in Living with Chucky, but the film’s heartfelt exploration of how the franchise built friendships that paid no attention to age and that have lasted for decades should make it intriguing to even non-horror fans unfamiliar with the diabolical doll and his evil exploits.
Living with Chucky screens as part of Popcorn Frights, which takes place as a hybrid event, in person in Miami and Fort Lauderdale and with a virtual program online, from August 11–August 21, 2022. For more information, visit https://popcornfrights.com/.
Directed by: Kyra Elise Gardner
Written by: Kyra Elise Gardner and Jason Strickland
Produced by: Chucky Documentary
Starring: Kyra Elise Gardner, Don Mancini, Brad Dourif, Jennifer Tilly, Fiona Dourif
Runtime: 1 hour 45 minutes
Release Date: August 13, 2022
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