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Cult of Chucky (Movie Review)

Cult of Chucky (Movie Review)
10.03.2017by: Eric Walkuski
7 10
ORDER CULT OF CHUCKY RIGHT HERE

PLOT: Following the events of CURSE OF CHUCKY, Nica is now a resident of a psychiatric hospital after being found guilty of murdering members of her family. When a Good Guy doll shows up, Nica is certain Chucky is about to commence a whole new massacre.

REVIEW: I've got to hand it to Don Mancini. The writer-director knew that, at this stage, only a game-changer of a WTF sequel could really justify a new Chucky movie. As the last two movies have gone straight-to-Blu-ray, it's getting harder and harder for fans of the diminutive serial killer to get excited for his exploits. Every series shows wear and tear after six entries, but instead of sending Chucky to outer space, Mancini decided to shake things up in a far more delirious way with his latest installment. CULT OF CHUCKY, the seventh movie in the franchise, ends on a note that either reinvigorates this series or jumps the shark so completely that a franchise overhaul is now inevitable. Either way, you can't say Mancini has grown tired of his creation, or of throwing him (and the audience) into absurd new situations.

Naturally, I can't spoil what the big twist is in CULT OF CHUCKY, but I can say the movie took several turns toward the end that surprised me. Honestly, at a certain point during the conclusion I wondered just what the hell was going on, so aggressively kooky had Mancini's film gotten. But I was rather entertained, of that I'm sure, and even if CULT is the weirdest and most discordant of the Chucky films, it makes an impression thanks to a willingness to go off the rails dramatically.

What's interesting is, for its first half, CULT OF CHUCKY might be the most subdued CHUCKY entry. This no doubt thanks to its location, a psych ward where poor Nica (Fiona Dourif) is housed after being accused of murdering five people, actually the victims of a resurgent Chucky in CURSE. Mancini's sets are spare and eerie, and though the film's budget was clearly not very big, the director still makes the most of it with a clinical, clean-looking aesthetic that immediately stands out from the rest. Nica's got issues here; not only does everyone think she's a murderer, but a Good Guy doll has made its way into the hospital and might just be gunning for her and a few other patients. Not only that, she's under the sway of a creepy psychiatrist (Michael Therriault) who might be using his hypnotherapy sessions for less than noble means.

CULT OF CHUCKY has more up its sleeve: We frequently cut to the lonely life of Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent), now pretty much a recluse who lives amongst a vast arsenal of weapons... and the head of Chucky locked in a safe. At the end of CURSE OF CHUCKY, Andy blasted Chucky's face right off, but typical of the doll it did not die, and so Andy keeps it around to torture as he pleases. But if Chucky is there with Andy, what - or who - is starting to kill people off at Nica's hospital?

Mancini keeps these plates spinning fairly ably, and the movie has a morbid, unsettling atmosphere for much of the first half that is quite intriguing. But once Mancini lays all of his cards on the table (and this includes bringing back Jennifer Tilly as Tiffany/Jennifer Tilly), things get nuts pretty quickly. The movie's last third is, for lack of a better word, ridiculous, and it's clear Mancini is having fun going apeshit and throwing the kitchen sink right out the window. It can't be denied the movie's craziness is infectious, and as it ended I had to smile at its go-for-broke attitude. If there's another CHUCKY film in the offing, then I'm all in to see where Mancini takes it. If not, this is a pretty memorable way to go out.

Fiona Dourif's Nica once again proves to be an excellent foe for Chucky; as in CURSE, Dourif gives a splendid performance that is vulnerable when it needs to be and take-no-shit when it needs to be. Her father, Brad Dourif, once again lends his voice to Chucky, although the character is certainly a little off this time around, in voice and appearance, and there are several shots where he just doesn't look right at all. Truth be told, Chucky is often the most odd aspect of the movie, sometimes not looking like he's actually there there. Perhaps it's just that the rest of the movie has such a surreal atmosphere, but in terms of its portrayal of Chucky as a character, CULT is again the most far removed from any of the others.

All things considered, CULT OF CHUCKY is still a demented treat from Mancini and the Chucky family; a distinct creation that some fans might distance themselves from. I for one found plenty to appreciate here, as it's a lively and idiosyncratic effort, admirable in its desire to burn everything down and start things anew. If Mancini and company can accomplish that, I will certainly sign up for more CHUCKY adventures going forward.

Extra Tidbit: CULT OF CHUCKY is now available on Blu-ray - order your copy right HERE.

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