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Wednesday, November 10, 2021

The Queer Horror of “Chucky”: Episode 5 – “Little Little Lies’

Each week Joe Lipsett will highlight a key scene or interaction in Don Mancini’s Chucky series to consider how the show is engaging with and contributing to queer horror.

It’s time to talk about young love! 

Without a doubt, one of the best components of Don Mancini’s new Chucky series is its unflinching commitment to telling a young queer romance story. It’s been an absolute joy to watch the trust and intimacy between Jake (Zackary Arthur) and Devon (Björgvin Arnarson) develop over the first half of the season. The age appropriate actors playing the pre-teen characters have great chemistry together and their scenes have a youthful tenderness that feels achingly authentic.

While there’s never been a doubt that these two like each other, back in episode two, when Chucky (Brad Dourif) was actively grooming Jake, it seemed as though Jake might dodge Devon’s advances in order to pursue vengeance on Lexy (Alyvia Alyn Lind). I’m specifically remembering the scene at school when Devon tries to connect with Jake by touching his arm, and Jake gives him a panicked look. Jake’s reaction is partially because he’s preoccupied thinking about murdering Lexy, but he’s also either uncomfortable or worried about being touched by another boy in a public setting.

It’s clever of writers Harley Peyton and Rachael Paradis to recreate that moment in “Little Little Lies” with a completely different outcome. In the span of two episodes, Devon has been brought into the fold: he’s researched Charles Lee Ray’s backstory and he’s seen Chucky in action at the hospital. He and Jake (and Lexy) are in this together now. This time, when Devon touches Jake’s arm, not only does Jake allow it, but the episode goes into a time lapse: it’s just the two of them, alone in this moment, and everyone and everything else is just a blur. It’s a great visual representation of how caught up in each other they are.

This nicely anticipates the pair’s first kiss later in the episode. There’s a carefree, romanticized feel to the overhead birds-eye and on the ground tracking shots as they ride their bikes, then stop to survey the lush fall colours. They gaze at each other, then lean in for a hesitant peck. After a knowing beat, the pair give it a second go, this time with more conviction and enthusiasm. 

It’s a pretty accurate depiction of the first time you realize what kissing the right person feels like. There’s trepidation and maybe even awkwardness at first, then you let go and realize you want more. 

Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is a very necessary kind of representation. Same-sex kissing isn’t a rarity on TV anymore, but it is still often treated as taboo and/or sensational. It’s also the purview of older characters as a prelude to sex. What’s happening on Chucky is obviously more chaste and innocent, but it’s the kind of representation that matters, especially to closeted queer kids. 

Here are two young boys, exploring their feelings for a member of the same sex, and it’s not the end of the world. Nor is it sexless – this relationship involves kissing, hand holding and touching. Seeing physical intimacy on screen is vitally important because it reinforces that queer people don’t just exist, we also have sex. Jake and Devon’s burgeoning relationship normalizes this behaviour in an age-appropriate way.

Amusingly enough, this coming of age story unfolds in the same episode as another queer storyline, albeit one that’s much more adult in nature. The return of Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly) and Nica (Fiona Dourif), as well as flashbacks to Chucky’s first meeting with Tiffany in the same hotel room, have a heightened sexuality to them. 

For both of these adult situations, queer sexuality is intricately linked to death. In the flashbacks, Chucky and Tiffany casually murder the woman they’re engaged in a menage-a-trois with (amusingly this instigates the change to Tilly’s trademark voice) while in the present Tiffany and Nica-as-Chucky are voyeuristically having sex in front of a hostage who is later killed. These scenes exist primarily to shed light on the couple’s origin story and introduce conflict into Nica’s body possession storyline from Curse of Chucky, but the linkage between queer sex and death is significant. 

This is a far more conventional association, with historical ties to films like Basic Instinct and beyond. Queer horror has a long and troubled history wherein queer sexuality (and, more specifically, the physical act of sex) is coded as dangerous or deadly. It’s a bit ironic that this outdated/traditional depiction exists in the same episode as Jake and Devon’s more progressive depiction of queer romance. 

Don’t let anyone tell you that Mancini and company don’t have a sense of humour!    


Chucky airs Tuesdays on Syfy and USA Network. For more coverage, see Meagan’s review of episode five.



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/editorials/3691105/queer-horror-chucky-episode-5-little-little-lies/

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