It is time for a confession: as a fan of horror films, slasher, and dark comedies, I have never seen a film in the Child’s Play franchise. However, I recently saw its latest entry, Cult of Chucky, written and directed by Don Mancini, and I absolutely loved it!
The story takes place right after the events of Curse of Chucky. Confined to an asylum for the criminally insane for the past four years, Nica Pierce is erroneously convinced that she, not Chucky, murdered her entire family. But when her psychiatrist introduces a new therapeutic “tool” to facilitate his patients’ group sessions — an all-too-familiar “Good Guy” doll with an innocently smiling face — a string of grisly deaths begins to plague the asylum, and Nica starts to wonder if maybe she isn’t crazy after all. Meanwhile, Andy Barclay, Chucky’s now all-grown-up nemesis from the first three Child’s Plays, races to Nica’s aid. But to save her he’ll have to get past Tiffany, Chucky’s long-ago bride, who will do anything, no matter how deadly or depraved, to help her beloved evil devilish doll.
What caught me by surprise was how funny the whole movie was: from the first scene to the last, the film is a self-aware ride that both thrills and makes you laugh thanks to witty one-liners, visual (gory) gags, and the interactions between characters that are never forced. The setting of the mental institution is cliched, but Mancini makes the most of its low budget by making the entire facility white and giving dark clothes to the actors, creating a visually pleasing contrast that makes every movement stand out. The cinematography is quite impressive as well in a couple of points, with many split-focus shots and wide shots that gave the film a very distinctive style. Also, the soundtrack is composed by the underrated Joseph LoDuca (of Evil Dead fame), and you instantly recognize his touch.
The film is campy fun, and most actors are in on the joke. The iconic performance of Brad Dourif as the voice of Chucky is wonderful, and having him act alongside his daughter Fiona (who plays Nica) makes for a fun dynamic. And when people start dying, it is delightfully violent gory, with awesome practical effects and truly stellar animatronic work for Chucky. The third act in particular becomes insane and goes off the rails in terms of jokes and gore, and I loved every second of it!
Overall, Cult of Chucky is far from your typical “great” movie: the acting ain’t always great, some of the production looks cheap (this is still a DTV film), and the dialogue is a bit too serious during the second act. However… it is just SO MUCH FUN!! From beginning to end, I was grinning so much that I had serious flashbacks to the first time I watched Evil Dead 2. Gory, hilarious, and short, I really cannot wait to watch every other entry in this franchise, and see where the story goes next.
Visual Effects: 8.5
Violence & Gore: 9.5
Sex & Nudity: 6.5
Drugs & Profanity: 6
Intensity & Horror: 7