If there’s something more embarrassing than a slasher flick revolving around a possessed assassin redhead doll, that must be the 7th instalment of the franchise born from that concept. Right?
Cult of Chucky is the follow-up to Curse of Chucky (2013) and tells the story of Nice Pierce, who was framed by Chucky for the murder of her family and, after years of intense therapy, is now convinced she committed those crimes and the possessed doll was only a symptom of her psychosis.
When she’s brought to a mental institution, though, Tiffany Valentine – girlfriend of Charles, the serial killer whose soul has been transferred to the doll – pays her a visit and gives her a “good guy” doll, an exact original Chucky’s lookalike.
From that moment on, Nica’s nightmares come back to life and she starts warning everybody about the impending danger, despite nobody believes her.
The convoluted plot is, evidently, only a device to add another chapter to the 29-year long (can you believe that?) franchise. However, Don Mancini’s latest film is surprisingly enjoyable and entertaining.
Despite a rather mediocre plot, Mancini’s Cult of Chucky is quite an ambitious project. For more ambitious than what the franchise requires.
This is entirely understandable: Don Mancini is the Child’s Play franchise’s creator and sole writer to date. However, he’s also responsible for two of the worst films in the franchise: Seed of Chucky (2004) and Curse of Chucky.
His latest film, though, features huge improvements over the previous two, having higher production values, better characters (for the most part; Tiffany and the psychiatrist are incredibly unlikable) and astounding cinematography.
In terms of the latter, the cinematographer and photographer Michael Marshall does a great job at creating an artsy, surreal and dreamy vibe in most of the shots. I expected anything in life but a Chucky movie featuring unconventional and dreamlike sequences!
This surprising aspect, in combination with extremely fun gore, makes for a unique view, a real treat for the eye. Look out for the decapitation scene if you give this film a chance!
I also appreciated the innovative approach to the franchise, with the artsy route replacing some of the campy humour that, after the second and third instalment of the series, became redundant and tiresome.
Nevertheless, Mancini manages to insert some comedy in this chapter as well. In the case of Cult of Chucky, though, the humour is linked to internal references and quotes from other classics of the genre (such as Nightmare on Elm Street, 1984 and Psycho, 1960) that wink to true horror fans.
Furthermore, the character of Malcolm – a patient with multiple identity disorder – provides some chuckles along the way. Played by Adam Hurtig, Malcolm is the standout, in my opinion: he provides fun, compassion and angst according to what the situation requires. The lead is Fiona Dourif, who portrays Nica, and she’s fantastic in certain scenes, whereas she seems quite wooden in others. Her father, the great Brad Dourif, voices Chucky and he’s always a delight to listen to.
Besides, the few dull moments are filled with Easter eggs that are enough to keep you entertained and make you overlook the dullness of these sequences.
Other than the dull plot, I didn’t appreciate the ending (last 15 minutes or so) in which the film goes all out bananas and gives up on making any sense. It’s not terrible, though, since it contains enough gore and dumb killings to keep the audience’s interest up throughout.
Also, during the first 30 minutes or so, Cult of Chucky excessively utilises false jump-scares (three in the first 13 minutes) and formulaic horror tropes. Finally, there’s a sub-plot that serves the only purpose to bring back a character from the previous chapters and, thus, I didn’t really care for that.
To sum up, even though I’m not the biggest fan of this franchise, I recommend you check out Cult of Chucky. It might be the second or third best instalment in the series and embraces an original route that makes for a diverse viewing experience. It has flows, nevertheless, such as the not always successful mixture of different vibes (slasher, artsy flick, gore, horror-comedy); therefore, I probably wouldn’t call it a good movie. It’s an interesting one nonetheless and has enough features to be entertaining and never boring. If you’re a fan of the franchise, don’t miss this one out. Even if you, like me, aren’t, Cult of Chucky is still worth a watch. Cheers!