Movie Review: “Cult of Chucky”

  Even if the last couple of films in the series might not have entertained me as much as I had hoped, as a lifetime fan, I was still excited for Cult of Chucky when it was announced and flocked to it as earliest opportunity.

   Cult of Chucky is a 2017 film written and directed by Don Mancini, the series creator who also directed Seed of Chucky and Curse of Chucky. The film acts as the seventh installment of the franchise, carrying on from the events of its predecessors, and providing a bridge between continuities in an effort to bring it full-circle. As always, it stars Brad Dourif as the voice of Chucky, and has a supporting cast of Fiona Dourif, Alex Vincent, Jennifer Tilly and Summer H. Howell – all of whom having been involved at an earlier film in the series.

  Similar to Curse of Chucky, the new film opted against a traditional worldwide theatrical release, instead, being released through Video On-Demand, as well as DVD and Blu-Ray on October 3rd. As such, it is difficult to discuss the film’s financial prospects as home-video sale information isn’t as readily available as box office numbers. Both Curse of Chucky and Cult of Chucky both have over an 80 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, but it doesn’t sample enough critics for an actual consensus to be suggested, whereas the audience reception from the same website puts both films in the 60% range.

  The film continues the story line that started with Curse of Chucky. The main heroine from that film, Nica, has been institutionalized and blamed for the murders that took place in the earlier film. If you caught the after-credit scene for Curse, you won’t be surprised to find that Andy, played by the same actor from Child’s Play 1 and 2, was the last person to be in-contact with everyone’s favorite Good Guy doll, Chucky, and is shooting the breeze and reminiscing the good times by locking away Chucky’s severed head in a safe and bringing him out every now and again for torturous fun.

   If I provided much more information that that though, I feel I would risk revealing some of the most interesting aspects of the film, and so, I will simply conclude by saying the narrative focuses mostly on Chucky wreaking havoc in the asylum and leave it at that.

   Something I will say right off the bat is that I enjoyed Cult of Chucky a lot more than I did Curse of Chucky, a film I thought was very conventional and bogged down by its limitations.

   This film fully embraces the franchises’ namesake. Everyone always likes to make comparisons to the original series, like, saying Curse returned to the roots of the Child’s Play films, or, this and that, when, in truth, the Curse film approached things in a very different way from the rest of the films without any strong similiarities. This film isn’t most comparable to the Child’s Play series either, but isn’t most comparable to Curse, in the same respect.

   Cult of Chucky welcomes the series back as a horror-comedy, making pop-culture references and jokes that actually made me laugh every now and again. Some of us might be less enthused about that spectacle, looking back at Seed of Chucky and the slow-motion karate attack scenes and having to resist the urge to cringe. Thankfully though, I think Cult of Chucky actually plays it closer thematically and tonally to Bride of Chucky, playing for laughs, but also being serious in more important moments.

   On the downside, I do believe Cult of Chucky suffers from a lot of the lulling moments that Curse had, with the only difference being that this film delivered the goods, so to speak. I hashed it out with someone else who had seen the film, someone else that also enjoyed the series overall a great deal, and the agreement we came to is that practically every moment in the asylum that didn’t involve Chucky directly was pretty ho-hum and tedious.

   Simply put, the characters in the asylum simply weren’t interesting or engaging to watch. Some of them felt thrown together and under cooked, only existing for aspects that are convenient to the film’s plot and not as fleshed out bodies I can either root for or root against, and others feel too outlandish or unnecessary.

  In Curse of Chucky, the film had a love triangle between Nica’s sister, her husband, and a nanny, and I thought that dynamic, for the most part, wasn’t interesting enough to really justify itself, and, in this film, I feel the same principle applies to the dynamic between Nica and the asylum’s doctor.

   Chucky’s objectives and abilities have been re-explained multiple times in the series, but, in this film, it throws everything out-the-window and goes overboard. Don’t get me wrong, because, I like that they tried something different, but, also, at the same time, the concept implemented that is pivotal to this film’s story doesn’t fit with the established rules, and the explanation they use is weak.

  The film is shot in a nice fashion. I almost didn’t even mention this, simply because I have always had such a soft spot for the colorful, enthusiastic visuals of the initial Child’s Play films, but Cult of Chucky really is aesthetically appeasing to the eye. One of the criticisms I had with Curse was in-regards to how Chucky looked in the film. This film improves on that, for the most part, going with a look for the doll that more closely resembles what we’re used to, and, looking back, I can’t think of any scenes where it looks really awkward or off-putting, something that couldn’t be said for Curse.

  All in all, I would say that, if Curse of Chucky improved a smidgin over Seed of Chucky, even if it didn’t entertainment as much as Seed did, then, Cult of Chucky improved a considerable deal over Curse and entertained me quite a bit more than Seed.

   The film isn’t perfect and, like I said, had some moments that dragged at times, with certain characters I couldn’t become invested in, but, through and through, I would say I was pleasantly surprised by it. Although it may not reach the heights of the series in its hayday, it scratched the itch I had by providing the Chucky antagonist an interest film that allows the character to stretch its legs and be embraced. This film makes me optimistic for the future and I am excited for the eventual eighth film or television series.

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