Review: Cult of Chucky

Don Mancini returns to write and direct the 7th instalment in the Child’s Play series and proves there’s still plenty of life in this killer doll’s 30 year reign of cinematic terror. Stylistic, witty, gonzo and well crafted, Cult of Chucky breathes new murderous energy into the perennial Good Guy..

When the Child’s Play series shifted from the farcical and unduly maligned Seed of Chucky to direct-to-home entertainment under Universal’s 1440 shingle, series creator (and director of Seed of Chucky) Don Mancini reverted the story back to a traditional haunted house offering with the hugely underrated Curse of Chucky. Moody, scarier and a more malevolent Chucky, Curse felt fresh whilst never losing its continuation in the series nor its penchant for black comedy.

Mancini seems to have uncovered the actual thematic potential in the home entertainment realm with the follow up Cult of Chucky, a completely reinvigorated entry that transposes the mayhem into a minimum security mental hospital. Whereas Curse was all darkness and shadows, Cult of Chucky is sterilised white, in a snowy winter, in a hospital sporting bleach white hallways and rooms, with barely any darkness in proceedings at all.

After being committed to a mental institution for the criminally insane Nica (Fiona Dourif), our paraplegic heroine from Curse of Chucky, is struggling to come to terms with the idea that she might actually have been the brutal murderer of her family and not a possessed doll. After making the acquiantance of multiple personality (Adam Hurtig), a child killer (Elizabeth Rosen), a schizophrenic (Marina Stephenson Kerr), and her resident psychiatrist (Michael Therriault), it isn’t too long before Chucky (Brad Dourif) starts to turn up wreaking havoc.

In a stroke of ingenious fan service, Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) returns as an adult, racked with paranoia, fear and lust for vengeance against the doll that destroyed his life. The return of Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly – who mocks herself at one point to great effect) is a welcome one and there is one other major fanboy freak out moment that I won’t reveal here.

Not settling on the old trope of dragging out original players to reinvent the series, Mancini deftly throws another twist to the plotting that turns the whole thing on its head.

Alongside that, horror aficionados, the violence is more brutal, the gore factor is exponentially increased but what really makes this low budget wonder shine is just how twisted Mancini lets the show get. He is on fire here as his directorial skills sharpen with each entry. He’s found a real home in Universal 1440 to let the ideas fly.

It all translates into knowing there is still much affection and energy for the franchise from the film makers. Brad Dourif has lost none of his vocal or comedic edge in voicing Chucky, made even more entertaining in the exchanges with his real life daughter Fiona.

Cult of Chucky is a 90 minute blast from start to finish. It stands completely apart from its predecessors and is as inventive (if not moreso) as any of the sequels with a razor sharp wit and horror aplenty. There’s oodles of bloodletting (this is the goriest in the series by far) and it leaves you knowing that there’s still room for more Child’s Play….