I’ve seen a lot of horror movies in my years, but oddly enough I can’t recall seeing Child’s Play…well, ever. I believe I’ve seen bits and pieces here and there from different films, and when I was younger I may have watched Child’s Play 3 (as I do remember some scenes that take place in the army) but if I did, it didn’t really resonate with me like Halloween or Friday the 13th films did. Heck, maybe I just avoided them all these years because it’s about a doll that comes to life and murders people! Either way, the end result was that I had to do a little reconnaissance work when it came time for me to review Cult of Chucky.
Okay, so I didn’t have to do any research. I mean, as mentioned above it’s a movie about a doll that kills people, so what more is there that you really need to know? Well, I like to go in fully prepared – especially since Cult of Chucky sees the return of two of the franchise’s lead characters to take the reigns once again.
The Child’s Play franchise (which is more or less the Chucky franchise now) has been a series that often sees rather long breaks between films. They’re fairly successful, so I’m not 100% sure why this is the case, but that’s just how it’s been. The third film came out in 1991 and it wasn’t until 1998 that Bride of Chucky brought the doll back to life once again, this time alongside his female counterpart, Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly). Fast-forward six years to 2004 and we had the release of Seed of Chucky, and then an even longer hiatus takes place and we don’t hear from the Chuckster again until 2013’s Curse of Chucky.
And Curse of Chucky is where the franchise truly begins its new lease on life, as Fiona Dourif (daughter of the voice of Chucky himself, Brad Daurif) joins the cast as Nica, a woman who has been paralyzed from the waist down since birth because of Chucky. Well, it’s really because of serial killer Charles Lee Ray (Brad Daurif) back before he transferred his soul into the Good Guy doll named Chucky via a voodoo spell back in the original 1988 film, but Curse of Chucky sort of adjusts the events that took place to allow for these new stories to be told. Sure, everything that’s happened in every film leading up to this one has still happened, it’s just that they sort of retconned certain events to fit in new characters that have a more personal stake when it comes to events surrounding Chucky. Kind of like what happened in Spider-Man 3 where they made it so that the Sandman was involved in Uncle Ben’s murder…except not as absolutely terrible as that.
So, my detective work was put to good use, as Cult of Chucky picks up pretty much where Curse of Chucky left off. There’s a brief refresher of events that have happened since the last film during the opening credits and then we’re right into it with Nica finding herself in a mental institution because nobody believes her when she told them that a doll murdered her whole family. So those murders land on her, and thanks to shock therapy and a terrible psychiatrist (Michael Therriault as Dr. Foley) she believes that it’s possible she may have actually done it.
So with Curse and now Cult, it’s easy to see that the filmmakers are going for more of a chapter-by-chapter ongoing saga, much like the Resident Evil franchise did. There was a post-credit scene at the end of Curse of Chucky that brought back Andy (Alex Vincent) the original kid from the original films now a grown man. He plays a supporting role in Cult of Chucky, and I believe all the homages and throwbacks found in Cult will be something long-time fans of the franchise will appreciate.
Now, it wouldn’t be a good ol’ fashion slasher flick if Chucky didn’t arrive on the scene, and arrive he does. Like I mentioned, Dr. Foley is terrible, and the way he thinks that Nica can get over believing Chucky is real is by bringing a Good Guy doll named Chucky (apparently 2% of all Good Guy dolls made were named Chucky!) into the group so that she can come to terms with what she did. Of course, this just triggers Nica to tell everyone that Chucky is going to kill them all, including her.
So, is Cult of Chucky worth watching? Sure, it’s a fun horror flick with solid production value considering it’s straight to DVD/Blu-ray, and the acting is pretty good all around. They’re definitely trying to build a stronger foundation with Curse and Cult to take the franchise in a newer direction, but while Chucky is pretty brutal when it comes to his kills, he’s still cracking one-liners that make Cult of Chucky more entertaining and sometimes disturbing than it is suspenseful or scary.
That’s not a bad thing though, as it’s fun to watch the characters get picked off and to see Nica try to prove she’s not insane. Fiona Dourif does some really top-notch work here, and carries any emotional weight the film does have on her shoulders entirely. The supporting cast all do solid work of being believable mental patients with varying illnesses, which could have easily gone wrong if the film didn’t take itself somewhat seriously – which it does on the acting front, while allowing itself to be pretty crazy with some of the Chucky stuff.
As for Chucky, he excels the most in the final half of the film, when the story really sees him let loose. Brad Dourif’s voice work is creepy and funny, with some great quips throughout the final act especially. In fact, things pick up so nicely in the final 25 minutes or so that I wished the back and forth interactions that caused this enjoyment had started a bit sooner.
From a filmmaking standpoint, Cult of Chucky is a good looking movie. The mental hospital is a great location, and the heavy use of whites is a great juxtaposition to the deep reds that eventually spatter their way throughout. On the editing front, the kills look great; not shying away from the gore, while also not making quick cuts to hide shoddy work, as there really isn’t any when it comes to the death scenes. Often shortcuts can be taken, but here the viewer gets to see it all, and the special effects team and all involved have done really solid work in making these kills…well, come to life.
If you’re in the mood for an entertaining, rather gory horror flick, you need look no further than Cult of Chucky. While it does have its share of silly moments, it’s definitely worth checking out whether you’re a fan of the franchise or not. Again, I do believe that long-time fans will get a bit more out of it with all the tie-ins that the filmmakers are going to great lengths to work in seamlessly. In the end, something tells me that there won’t be as long a hiatus between Cult of Chucky and whatever untitled Chucky film follows it up, and with the fairly well laid out story that’s being told, that’s a good thing.
Oh, and be sure to stick around for another post-credit scene that long time fans should really enjoy.
The Blu-ray transfer from Universal is a great one for this. The whites really pop, and the overall atmosphere the cinematographer and director were trying to accomplish really shine best in this format. The audio is also well done, with the dialogue coming through perfectly, with no straining to make out words or having it battle against the score of the film.
On the special features front there are only a few, but they’re fun and worth watching if you’re a fan.
Inside the Insanity of Cult of Chucky – This featurette is just under 7-minutes in length and sees the cast and crew talk about Chucky, his presence on set, continuing the franchise and what the hardest scene to shoot during filming was.
Good Guy Gone Bad: The Incarnations of Chucky – This is a pretty fun watch, and it’s crazy to see how much work and how many people go into making Chucky come to life. This one focuses on how many puppeteers go into making Chucky move on set, how they get his to deliver his lines properly, and how many versions of Chucky are made for filming.
The Dollhouse – This featurette is 7.5-minutes long and focuses on the family dynamic on set, and what it’s been like for some of the crew and cast who have been with the franchise for going on 30 years. It’s a much more personal special feature that really shows how much those behind this series care about it and one another.
Feature Commentary with Director/Writer/Executive Producer Don Mancini and Head Puppeteer/Associate Producer Tony Gardner – This is a fun listen for fans of the franchise. These two have loads involved with the series, and their love for it shows here.
Universal Pictures Presents Cult of Chucky. Written & Directed by: Don Mancini. Starring: Fiona Dourif, Brad Dourif, Michael Therriault, Alex Vincent, Jennifer Tilly, Adam Hurtig. Running time: 90 Minutes. Rating: R. Released on Blu-ray: Oct. 3, 2017.
Tags: Brad Dourif, Cult of Chucky, Don Mancini, Fiona Dourif