Franchises, such as Halloween, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare On Elm Street, have dominated the never-ending sequel game, ditching cast and crew along the way. All three (except for possibly the new Halloween coming in 2018) have ended their original story lines in favor of being remade and attempting to start their franchises over. One franchise that is still continuing with original cast and creator is the Child’s Play franchise. Yes, they have changed and morphed along the years, but in 2013’s Curse of Chucky Don Mancini brought audiences back to the roots of the series with an eerie house terrorized by a killer doll, and none of the silliness present in its two predecessors. This time around Mancini presents a direct follow up to Curse with Cult of Chucky. Cult, while lacking typical scares, is a fun, bloody romp around an asylum that takes the franchise in a new direction.
Child’s Play and Child’s Play 2 are slasher movies. They follow along with typical slasher tropes (person getting stalked, people around them dying, etc.), and at least attempt to be scary. Cult, while following along with some slasher tropes, never delivers a solid scare. Chucky is creepy and maniacal, but when it comes to terrorizing adults he loses his intimidation. Most of the movie the doll is being held by an adult as if he were a baby, so when he starts walking about it is almost cute. Perhaps the slasher sub-genre is dead, so Mancini wanted to go a different direction. That direction is where any scare in this movie exists, but not in the way audiences might expect. Without spoiling what happens, it seems like Mancini went for more of a psychological scare. What if this happens? And the answer to that question is a scary thought concurrently cool for fans of the Chucky legacy.
For fans of the franchise Cult of Chucky is a blast. Using an asylum as the central setting and starting with Nica’s (played again by Fiona Dourif) psychotic breakdown are smart choices. These two elements create a sense of paranoia for the viewer. This leads to questioning everything and asking, is this real? throughout the movie. There is a sense of confusion present with people inside the asylum, outside the asylum, and with the audience, which makes this installment a fun ride until all is revealed. Another way Cult is fun is, without a doubt, the kills. Again, without spoiling anything, these kills are gruesome. One is reminiscent of Fulci’s Zombie. Are some over-the-top? Yes, but this is a Chucky movie, so it is expected, and that makes it more entertaining. Also entertaining is seeing Nica and Chucky interact (played by real-life daughter and father, respectively). One scene in particular Nica does something…Chucky-esque that will have fans nodding with approval. The last entertaining aspect worth mentioning is the cast. Obviously both Dourifs are back, but there are two other actors who come back to play their original characters, which is appreciated.
On a technical aspect Cult is decent, but nothing outstanding. Michael Marshall does the cinematography, as he did in Curse, so the look of this film is essentially the same—crisp, while providing a drab tone. The only difference being Cult has more daytime and typical bright white asylum scenes. The directing and the writing are fine. Again, this is a direct continuation of Curse, so the style and feel are similar. Chucky, for the most part, looks smooth. The biggest problem with him is there are one or two scenes where his arms are disproportionate. For some reason, in those scenes, Chucky’s arms appear longer than they should be. As far as the acting goes, the performances were enjoyable. Brand Dourif’s Chucky is always menacing with a hint of comedy. Fiona Dourif juxtaposes well with her father, more intense than she was in Curse and carries this movie well. The other characters play crazy believable enough to give the asylum an authentic feel.
At the end of the day Cult of Chucky is an entertaining watch. Often with sequels in this genre, the audience does not get to see the aftermath of the predecessor. Typical audiences are presented with a new batch of people to see getting mutilated. Mancini was smart to give a direct follow-up that allows viewers to see the repercussions and their effects on the prevailing final girl. Another intelligent move from Mancini was to ditch jump scares in favor of psychological creepiness. For those jumping into the franchise, it will be a fun ride through the loony bin. For fans of the Child’s Play franchise, this will be a worthy installment and will definitely scratch the Chucky itch until the sequel (which needs to happen after the ending this provides) is unleashed on the world.
Further Viewing: Puppetmaster - for more killer dolls