The first season of Don Mancini’s magnum opus, aptly titled Chucky, stands tall as one of the best transitions from film to television that I have ever seen. Seamlessly, the show combined old with new, staying true to decades of established mythology throughout the seven mainline Chucky movies. What eventually unfolded weaved in legacy characters with an assortment of queer and complex teens, creating an amalgamation of everything I always loved about one of horror’s most consistent franchises. Now, the second season of Chucky has finally arrived in all its glory. This time around, the groundwork has already been immaculately laid for a killer season. Who’s ready for Mancini’s trademark bloody camp, sadistic humor, and more Easter eggs than can possibly fit in a basket?
The resolution to last season’s cliffhanger featuring (spoiler alert) Alex Vincent’s Andy driving a bus full of Chucky dolls happens swiftly right at the top of the premiere, entitled “Halloween II.” With Tiffany the doll holding him at gunpoint, Andy swerves to certain doom… Meanwhile, Jake (Zackary Arthur) visits Devon (Bjorgvin Arnarson) on the doorstep of Devon’s new foster home, whilst Jake’s foster family waits in a car for his return. The two share an intimate and adorable goodbye kiss before we flash forward a whole six months later… It is Halloween in Salem, New Jersey, and Jake is about to go out trick-or-treating with his cute-as-a-button younger foster brother, Gary. Jake has to cancel plans with Devon, but suddenly receives creepy phone calls from an unknown number. In a sequence very evocative of Scream right down to the score, I was on the edge of my seat as Jake and Devon are plunged back into the orbit of Chucky the killer doll (voiced by mainstay Brad Dourif).
We catch up slowly on each major character; the showrunners are calculatedly weaving the stories into one larger whole. The season really takes a turn in the wake of a tragic event in the conclusion of that premiere episode. Lexi (Alyvia Alyn Lind), now an unstable drug addict, is forced to attend Incarnate Lord with Jake and Devon in lieu of a lengthy stay at juvie. Headmaster Bryce (played by last season’s double-duty vet, Devon Sawa) takes the word of God very seriously here, and will not tolerate bad behavior. Naturally, Incarnate Lord may be hiding a sinister agenda. The upcoming Christmas Toy Drive is only weeks away, and a mysterious new Good Guy-shaped package has freshly arrived in the mail. As the trailer teases, Chucky is let loose amongst nuns and religious folk—if that doesn’t sound like splendid mayhem, have you ever really been a Chucky fan?
Subsequent episodes have Easter eggs to everything from Sawa’s iconic comedy Idle Hands to lesbian classic Bound to Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange and beyond—the meta references, always a Chucky signature since Bride, are ever-present. Mancini’s loving nods to classic horror and other franchises always keep Chucky standing out from the crowd. Brad Dourif returns as the series’ signature iconic main villain. A constantly teased overarching story has me anxiously awaiting whatever is to come. I was filled with so many questions… Who is The Colonel? How old are Glen and Glenda? Are the religious overtones offensive, or just hilarious? Was that really how much money Jennifer Tilly made from The Simpsons?
I have no doubt that whatever Mancini is building towards will be well worth the wait. The last few episodes of Chucky’s first season went out in a fabulous fireworks display, teasing oodles of potential gas left in the tank for the ol’ Charles Lee Ray clan. I know without a doubt that this has turned out to be necessary tenfold. There was only one way to possibly manage the disparate threads tying everything together: a television series. There is simply no other way any of this would work. The format also allows them to play with the show’s style, never more present than in an all-time great murder mystery-style fourth episode set entirely at Jennifer Tilly’s mansion.
As far as the season’s MVPs are concerned, it is a girl’s year this time! Jennifer Tilly is the undisputed female energy centerpiece of the whole affair, strutting around as an iteration of her real-life celebrity persona, yet with Tiffany’s soul inside of her body. If that sounds at all confusing, just wait until the Glen/Glenda of it all… Nevertheless, Tilly imbues Tiffany/Tilly with manic desperation and a drunken swagger. She may live a decadent lifestyle, but with Nica stowed away in Tilly’s massive mansion, Tiffany is tied to the monotony of rewatching (and reciting!) key scenes from Tilly’s extensive filmography. Fiona Dourif, once again playing double duty as Nica and Nica-Chucky, impresses. Set off by drops of blood, Dourif flip/flops between two extremely distinct performances in effortless desperation.
Lind is also excellent as Lexi, teetering on the edge of sanity, always hungry for something to snort or take to get her mind off the present. Jake and Devon are also strong leads as per usual—both are affected irrevocably by the deaths surrounding them, particularly the loss of their parents, but their bond remains powerful thanks to performances from Zachary Arthur and Bjorgvin Arnarson. Especially notable is Lachlan Watson from The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina in the dual roles of Glen and Glenda. Last seen in Seed of Chucky as very young children, both are now fully grown and fiercely nonbinary. Their role is a fascinating one that I wanted to watch again and again.
Many people will only be tuning in to Chucky for the skillful puppetry and over-the-top murder. Indeed, Chucky season two delivers on both fronts. Promise of new, distinct versions of Chucky are on the horizon. How many pieces of Charles Lee Ray’s soul exist now? The Tiffany doll appears vital too, so for weirdo fans of the Bride/Seed era like myself, this season was made for you. As Chucky’s reach seems to be spread further than Voldemort, making him one unstoppable killing machine, is there truly any way to stop him? Kills are brutal highlights, but thus far have not brought the same level of carnage and bloody horror as the first season. However, I can feel a build up to an explosive dolls-gone-wild release of gory slasher hijinks imminently.
If its first season left you screaming for more, then Chucky season 2 will have the meta answer to their prayers! Satirizing religious nut jobs and Hollywood sleaze, Mancini takes us down the road of Chucky’s master plan with a firm grasp on storytelling and character work. Queer filmmaking reigns supreme as Chucky takes on a hilarious brand-new setting, and continues a refreshingly progressive take on modern horror with extravagant, bloody style to spare.
Chucky season 2 debuts exclusively to USA and SYFY Network on October 5th at 9pm.