25th Aug2017

Frightfest 2017: ‘Cult of Chucky’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Fiona Dourif, Alex Vincent, Jennifer Tilly, Brad Dourif, Elisabeth Rosen, Michael Therriault, Zak Santiago, Grace Lynn Kung, Ali Tataryn, Adam Hurtig | Written and Directed by Don Mancini

cult-chucky-blu

Confined to an asylum for the criminally insane for the past four years, Nica (Dourif) is wrongly convinced that she, not Chucky, murdered her entire family. But when her psychiatrist introduces a new group-therapy tool — a “Good Guy” doll — a string of grisly deaths plague the asylum and Nica starts to wonder if maybe she isn’t crazy after all. Andy (Vincent), Chucky’s now-grownup nemesis from the original Child’s Play, races to Nica’s aid. But to save her he’ll have to get past Tiffany (Tilly), Chucky’s long-ago bride, who will do anything, no matter how deadly or depraved, to help her beloved devil doll.

Picking up the story following the end of Curse of Chucky, this seventh entry in the franchise is at once its most interesting and most diversive. This time round we have more players from the long-running series, more references to the history of Child’s Play (including a nice nod to the controversial-in-the-UK third film) and a plot that should be kept HEAVILY under wraps for audiences to enjoy the film to the fullest… So no spoilers here!

Whilst keeping the story a surprise, what you can say about Cult of Chucky is that it looks amazing. Filled with spectacular and gory set-pieces (hey, what do you expect from a slasher movie franchise?), Don Mancini’s latest film is also marked by some stunning, almost Hitchcockian visuals – making superb use of light and shadow. So stylish are the visuals that even the setting, the “medium security” asylum Nica resides in, becomes its own character within the film: the stark halls and the plain furniture offering a cleaniness that feels alien and unforgiving. Almost as unforgiving as Chucky.

Of course this starkness eventually becomes sullied by the antics of Chucky, who stalks the halls of the asylum… or does he? That is one of the core questions for the early part of Cult of Chucky. Yet we the audience know that Chucky is real, we know he is responsible for the crimes Nica has been sentenced for. But the rest of the inmates, and the staff, don’t.

Of course, like any good Child’s Play movie, by the tine the rest of the cast are aware of, and believe “in” Chucky, it’s too late. He’s up to his old antics again. Antics which this time, whilst packed with grue and gore, also too have a beauty to them. Building on the visual stylings of the previous film, Don Mancini brings a whole new level of style and sophistication to proceedings. Hell, he manages to, a one point, make a scene look as beautiful as it is deadly. I’ll never look at snowflakes the same way again!

Now in my opening I mentioned that whilst Cult of Chucky is easily one of the most interesting entries in the series, it will also – I believe – be the most devisive. There are story choices made here that change the future for the franchise, much more so than any film in the series has EVER done before. Whether die-hard Chucky fans accept those choices and the changes they bring about, will be key to the success of this film. People scream for originality in their reboots and reduxes and Mancini has provided that here… But has it gone too far?

Personally? Well as a fan of the series, someone who knows the first two films like the back of his hand, who didn’t hate on Seed of Chucky, and who thought Curse of Chucky really refreshed the series for the better; I’m on board for where Cult of Chucky takes us… The playing field is wide open and it feels like the franchise could go absolutely anywhere. This film revitalises the thirty-year old Child’s Play series (yes, THIRTY!) for a whole new era – something that can’t be said about a lot of horror franchises these days!

***** 5/5

Oh, and one more thing… Make sure you stick around till the very end. The surprises within Cult of Chucky don’t stop when the credits roll.

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