"Child's Play 2" is an inevitable sequel that's not as good as its progenitor, but better than most movies with the numbers 2 through 8 in their titles. Thin plot-wise, it caters to an audience apparently amused on the first go-round by the antics of a foul-mouthed doll named Chucky, unlikely home to the soul of a psychopathic killer whose occult powers have allowed him to remove the batteries permanently. Chucky, once a benign Good Guys doll, turns into a malignant boy-toy hunting little Andy Barclay to achieve yet another soul transfer.
This has been going on for two movies now, and Chucky's getting mad. Still, the body count is not the driving force it becomes in most horror sequels.
Director John Lafia (who co-wrote the first "Child's Play") is not above the occasional sophomoric joke: Andy's foster parents are called the Simpsons but act like the Huxtables.
"2" actually gets clever at the end, when Andy (Alex Vincent) and sidekick Kyle (Christine Elise) battle Chucky in the Good Guys factory amid moving conveyor belts, hydraulic presses and molding units. As surreal as it is suspenseful, the climax may be a little too sophisticated for the genre, but it manages to lower its expectations at the last minute.
Since the focus is squarely on Chucky, the main question is how advanced the animatronic effects are from the first film: The answer is, not that much. Chucky's little face is certainly more expressive than the average serial killer's and he does move with an endearingly awkward doll-like gait. The major addition to Chucky's trick bag seems to be hyper leg kicks when he's pummeling someone. Once again, Chucky's voice is provided by Brad Dourif, more psycho off screen than he is on screen in another recent horror film, "Graveyard Shift." "I'm not going to spend the rest of my life as a plastic freak," he grumbles at one point, but despite an apparently fatal finale, don't be surprised if this adult ploy masquerading as "Child's Play" learns to count to 3.
Child's Play 2, opening at theaters today, is rated R and contains some lite gore and salty language.