CHILD’S PLAY 3 (1991)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

MPAA Rating: R for Horror Violence and Language

Directed by: Jack Bender

Written by: Don Mancini

Starring: Justin Whalin, Brad Dourif, Perrey Reeves, Jeremy Sylvers, Andrew Robinson, Travis Fine, Dakin Matthews & Dean Jacobson

It seems like a follow-up to CHILD’S PLAY 2 was greenlit almost immediately after that film’s release because CHILD’S PLAY 3 was pumped out ridiculously fast. This third installment arrived a mere nine months after the second entry and has obvious signs of wear-and-tear filmmaking and screenwriter. Series creator Don Mancini has cited CHILD’S PLAY 3 as his least liked flick in the franchise and I easily consider this one to be the worst CHUCKY film. Still, this doesn’t mean that the film is all-out bad or even mediocre. There’s still laughs, cool moments, and fun to be had, but this is definitely the lowest point of the franchise in its three decades of existence thus far.

Eight years after the events of CHILD’S PLAY 2, teenage Andy Barclay (now played by Justin Whalin) has arrived at a strict military school that enforces stern rules, frequently punishes its inhabitants, and has a mean hierarchy amongst the adolescent population. This harsh environment seems slightly superior to being on the run from a serial killer toy, until the Good Guy company once again pumps out its iconic red-haired dolls and Chucky’s blood gets mixed in with one of them. Now, murderous Chucky (voiced by Brad Dourif) has a new plastic body and finds himself trying to play “hide the soul” with young student Tyler (Perrey Reeves)…unless Andy can stop him before it’s too late.

To be frank, CHILD’S PLAY 3 has a pretty flimsy excuse for Chucky’s return. Some of the blood mixing in with a Good Guy doll and suddenly that doll-form of Charles Lee Ray being out and about again is as silly as a lightning strike bringing Jason Voorhees back to life or Freddy Krueger entering the real world after the sixth movie kills him off (but both of those were made into very fun slasher sequels that are actually good). You have to suspend your disbelief in CHILD’S PLAY 3 more than you do in any of the other entries of the series (including the purposely goofier BRIDE OF CHUCKY and meta-campy SEED OF CHUCKY). Still, CHILD’S PLAY 3 occasionally attempts to pull off somewhat fresh material in spite of its weak set-up.

The plot’s military school setting provides a new set of victims for Chucky to terrorize and presents Andy with a whole new set of challenges. The main school bully, Brett C. Shelton (Travis Fine), is a big-headed teenage antagonist. Shelton’s extra attention towards Andy makes his life more difficult as he tries to thwart Chucky from transferring his soul into another child. Jeremy Sylvers serves as a believably naïve kid who’s stuck in Chucky’s clutches, while Dean Jacobsen is believably geeky as dorky picked-upon student Whitehurst. Unfortunately, Perrey Reeves (who was 21 at the time of this film’s release) looks far too old to be convincing as a teenage crush for Andy (played by wooden replacement Justin Whalin).

At the very least, Brad Dourif seems to be having fun in the role of Chucky once again. While he snuck one-liners into the second film and had one bit of clever dialogue that cracked me up beyond reason, Dourif’s third portrayal of Chucky is basically the tiny plastic equivalent of Freddy Krueger in 1991. There are loads of one-liners to be had and most kills are played for laughs/entertainment. One kill severely thwarts expectations in a very funny way and this moment even receives a stunned reaction from knife-wielding Chucky (which is hilarious), while another death milks a deadly scenario in the military academy setting for actual tension. Yet another memorable bit involves Andrew Robinson as a delightfully over-the-top school barber Botnick.

CHILD’S PLAY 3’s finale hammers home the slap-dash, half-assed feeling of the entire film. Taking place in a horror-themed rollercoaster, things get distractingly ridiculous and the script makes noticeably stupid leaps in logic (even for the already far-fetched nature of this series). Chucky’s voodoo incantation is far longer than it originally was for the purposes of making a final showdown last longer. When the viewer can notice stuff like this, it’s bound to take them out of the film as a whole. Mancini admitted that he was running on fumes whilst writing this film and it really shows in a lot of ways. With mostly subpar acting, a lackluster finale, and a thin script, CHILD’S PLAY 3 is the worst installment in its long-running slasher franchise…but still manages to maintain a semblance of fun through humor and entertaining kill scenes.

Grade: C+