Chucky Proves The Era Of Horror Movie Reboots Failed

By Jacob VanGundy | Published

For most of my life, the landscape of horror movies has been filled with reboots of popular franchises like Nightmare on Elm Street and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. But recently, there’s been a shift in the genre, as reboots have given way to requels and sequels, with actual reboots being scant. To me, the upcoming return of the original Chucky to film is the ultimate sign that the age of the horror reboot is dead. 

Chucky’s Long-Lasting Legacy

First appearing in the 1988 slasher movie Child’s Play, Chucky is one of my favorite 80s horror characters. In that movie, the serial killer Charles Lee Ray, dying from a gunshot wound, transfers his soul into a doll by reciting a magical incantation. As a living doll, the serial killer torments and kills those around the little boy unfortunate enough to be given the possessed doll as a gift. 

Brad Dourif has voiced Chucky across seven movies and a television series, giving the character a sense of continuity many slashers don’t have. In an era dominated by reboots, the character continued to receive sequels instead, building up an increasingly interconnected mythology created by writer Don Mancini. While some of the movies, namely Bride of Chucky and Seed of Chucky didn’t land with the general audience, the character remained beloved by fans like me.

Die-Hard Fans Wrote Off The Reboot

It seemed like the version of the character created by Mancini was ending when Child’s Play received a reboot in 2019. The last two Chucky movies had been low-budget straight-to-video movies, while the reboot was theatrically released and had big stars like Aubrey Plaza and Mark Hamill. The movie made $40 million at the box office over a $10 million budget, but fans rejected it because its AI-centered plot was so different from the beloved Mancini version. 

Don’t Fix What Isn’t Broken

Instead of starting something new, the 2019 version of Child’s Play revitalized people’s love for the original character. In 2021, the franchise was turned into a television show for SyFy bringing back the original version and adhering to the original continuity. The show, called simply Chucky, was an immediate hit, receiving two follow-up seasons and widespread praise. 

After the financial success of the reboot, there was discussion of a sequel, but the popularity of Chucky has destroyed that idea. The next movie in the franchise will be a sequel to the show, seemingly confirming that the reboot universe is dead. As a fan of Mancini’s version of the character, I couldn’t be happier. 

Reboots Have Run Their Course

While Chucky represents the most direct example of a horror fandom favoring the return of the original version over a reboot, it’s part of a larger trend. Halloween was rebooted in 2007 by Rob Zombie with a pair of movies, but when the franchise was brought back again in 2018 they were direct sequels to the original 1978 film. Similarly, there was an attempt to reboot Scream as a TV show, but when it returned as a film franchise in 2022 it was within the same universe as the Wes Craven movies. 

Consider The Continuity

The era of legacy horror movie reboots seems to be over, replaced by modern sequels to classic movies. Fans aren’t drawn to classic horror franchises because of name recognition or the general concept, but because of specific characters and the creators who bring those stories to life. I much prefer this approach which can give us more of Brad Dourif’s delightful crude Chucky, and explore the idea of a killer AI doll in original movies like M3GAN.