Every horror fan has their own definition of what makes a strong, relatable, and likable female character. There are plenty of popular final girls that pop up on all of the best-of lists. Laurie Strode, Nancy Thompson, Ellen Ripley, and Sidney Prescott are mainstays of the genre and for good reason. All of those women have admirable qualities that make them great female characters that viewers can look up to. But most of the time, as a female horror fan, what I want to see in a horror heroine is one that doesn’t annoy the living shit out of me. I want to see a girl who can handle herself, who doesn’t spend the whole film crying and whimpering in the corner. Granted, this is probably not a realistic reaction for the insanity that typically occurs in a horror movie but there have been some heroines who have accomplished this, and I say we need to give credit where credit is due.
One of my favorite female horror characters has always been Kyle from Child’s Play 2, played by Christine Elise. Though she is technically a “final girl” in that she survived the film, it was her only appearance in the series and she mostly played second fiddle to Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent), the real star of the sequel. But Kyle was important to the picture, and her character possesses all the qualities that a final girl needs to survive and entertain the audience at the same time.
Kyle is Andy’s 17-year old foster sister. She lives with Joanne and Phil Simpson when he arrives. The first time we meet her, she is secretly smoking in her room. She is fond of wearing cool leather hats and sneaking out of the house at night, so we know that she’s a bit of a rebel–or at least wants others to think she is. But Kyle’s personality contradicts the image she projects. As a girl who grew up in foster care, one would expect her to have a lot of attitude and anger about her situation but she doesn’t. She’s not antagonistic toward her foster parents–she smartly recognizes that they are good people. She also becomes a sort of mentor to Andy, a child new to the foster system, by comforting him and giving him advice. Kyle is helpful around the house, she plays with her foster brother, and is a responsible almost-adult who knows how to take care of herself. Basically, she’s a good person.
Kyle is also an extremely likable person because of her wit and compassion. The latter comes out not only in her interactions with Andy, but also with Joanne. After Phil’s death, Joanne is obviously upset and in shock, and though Kyle doesn’t say much to her, the audience can see the compassion on her face. But ultimately, it is Kyle’s cool demeanor when confronted with Chucky that makes her stand out.
Kyle really gets a chance to shine in the scenes after Phil is murdered and Andy is taken away by Social Services. She finally starts to believe that Chucky is alive when he disappears from the trash, and she hears him upstairs scuffling with Joanne. She grabs a knife and investigates like a good final girl, showing very little fear. Though her fight scene with Chucky is a little hokey (the way he kicks his legs always makes me laugh), she still shows that she can hold her own and doesn’t quickly give up. In the end, Chucky manages to take her hostage and make her drive him to Andy. However, after she is taken hostage, it’s easy to see that she is merely appeasing him while waiting for just the right moment to strike back.
Child’s Play 2 is where the series started to make the turn toward more comedy, and I like to think that Kyle helped with that. The scene she has with Chucky in the car is absolutely hilarious. It’s a bit surreal to watch as these two have a seemingly normal conversation–despite the fact that one of them happens to be a possessed doll and has taken the other hostage. Where some people (including me) would be freaking out and begging for their life, Kyle keeps her calm, even maintaining her sarcastic attitude while mouthing off to the killer doll.
The most admirable thing about Kyle is the way she shows absolutely no hesitation about saving or helping Andy in the battle against Chucky. She hasn’t known Andy for very long, but is more than willing to risk her life for the life of an innocent child. Kyle does have a moment of weakness at the foster agency where it looks like she has given up, but she quickly snaps out of it when Andy is danger. After Andy is taken by Chucky, Kyle is relentless in her pursuit of them, chasing them down in her car before sprinting like a madwoman to get into the Play Pals toy factory before the door closes. Inside the factory, she shows resourcefulness in both her attempts to get her and Andy out of the factory, and in trying to kill or destroy Chucky, always making sure that Andy is protected.
In defeating Chucky and winning the heart of at least this viewer, Kyle proved to have all the personality, the compassion, and the resourcefulness to be a character that will live on forever as one of the best and most loved horror heroines.