[Review] ‘Cult of Chucky’ Proves that the Little Guy Still Has It
Hard to believe that we’re barely getting to a seventh Chucky movie. With the speed at which franchise horror movies tend to come out, it feels like we should be on our twentieth film by now. Thankfully, though, Chucky likes to take it slow and as a result that seems to have ensured that the quality of his films has stayed mostly strong over the years.
“Cult of Chucky” picks up sometime after the end of “Curse of Chucky.” Nica (Fiona Dourif) has found herself in a mental institution after she’s blamed for the murders Chucky committed in Curse. As part of her treatment her therapist comes up with the bright idea of having a Good Guy doll brought in to help Nica overcome her belief that Chucky is real. Inevitably people begin to turn up dead and Nica must, once again, do battle with the murderous doll. However, this time she isn’t alone as a familiar face returns to the franchise to take on his old nemesis.
The story in “Cult of Chucky” is surprisingly complex and not as straightforward as the premise would lead you to believe. It’s, of course, a Chucky film so you can easily predict who’s going to die and where the scares are going to come from. However, they inject some new mythos into the storyline that make part of the film feel like a genuine mystery as you try and piece together what’s going on. Some of the revelations and twists are a bit cheesy, but they don’t betray the essence of the Chucky films. It adds some much needed meat to the series and lays the foundation for potentially cool plot developments in future films.
“Curse of Chucky” had some decent gore, but “Cult” amps it up just a bit more and injects a few disturbing images that’ll certainly linger in my head for a while. And the worst scene isn’t at all violent, but unsettling. Without spoiling anything, I’ll simply say it involves Chucky and breastfeeding. But let’s circle back to the violence. The kills range from your standard throat slashings to more visceral deaths that had me gritting my teeth as people screamed in agony. There are hefty amounts of blood in this movie and the all-white washed out hospital setting is a nice background for all the arterial bleeding.
As for scares you’ll find “Cult of Chucky” mostly utilizing jumpscares and most of them are telegraphed a mile away or just a little weak in their execution. But really that’s the nature of the Chucky films. No one comes to Chucky for great scares, they come for the gore and the humor. Speaking of which, this is definitely a pretty humorous entry, but it does manage to restrain itself. Most of the jokes are saved for the backend of the film and, while some of them don’t land, there are still a handful of great moments that match up with some of Chucky’s best scenes in other entries.
Overall the film is a step in the right direction for the series. It’s self-aware enough to be the right level of absurd and fun while not being too over the top to alienate long time fans. With franchise films like this they tend to fall into a trap where they just repeat the same elements over and over again. However, by the end I had no idea what direction things were going to take and that honestly makes me excited for the next iteration. Let’s just hope we won’t have to wait as long for the next one as we did for “Cult of Chucky.”
“Cult of Chucky” is currently available on VOD, Netflix, and blu-ray. If you watch the Netflix version be aware that it’s the “rated” version and not the “unrated” version. This is key because the rated version doesn’t feature a post-credit scene which is something you’re definitely going to want to see. If you get the blu-ray it has some nice special features like a mini-documentary called “The Dollhouse” which explores the family that has developed around the Chucky films. It’s actually a touching little tribute to the bonds that have formed between the cast and crew. There’s also a good commentary track with Don Mancini and Tony Gardner (head puppeteer). And of course features that go over the effects of the film. So lots of little bits to digest if you’re looking to own the film on disc.