I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Cult of Chucky

I kind of want the CHUCKY cinematic saga to go on forever, or at least as long as Don Mancini wants to keep making them. He’s the guy who wrote the original script BLOOD BUDDY, that became CHILD’S PLAY, and then wrote all six sequels to date, and directed SEED OF CHUCKY (2004), CURSE OF CHUCKY (2013) and now CULT OF CHUCKY (aka CHUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN).

CURSE was the first one made for the DTV market, and CULT follows in its footsteps: lower budget, limited locations, filmed in Winnipeg, more serious tone than BRIDE or SEED except for some broad meta references and some nods to continuity. It also brings back the star, Fiona Dourif (yes, Brad’s daughter) as Nica, innocent paraplegic woman now committed to an asylum, blamed for Chucky’s murders and convinced she imagined him to ease her guilt. Of course, the dumbass doctor (Michael Therriault, The Girlfriend Experience) decides he should bring in a vintage Good Guy doll as part of her therapy, and, you know, shit may or may not happen.

For a minute there’s an adult ELM STREET 3 vibe. We meet the handful of patients and orderlies and see their group sessions. One patient, Michael (Adam Hurtig, who also apparently played a cop in CURSE, but I don’t think it’s the same character) is charming, and she immediately bones him before finding out he’s confused about who he even is. Others, especially Claire (Grace Lynn Kung, P2, CUBE 2: HYPERCUBE) don’t trust her, but their bickering never turns into bonding. They become Chucky victims, but never get to fight back and be beautiful and bad like Dream Warriors. I guess the creepiest patient subplot is the one about Madeleine (Elisabeth Rosen, HOUSE OF THE DEAD) because she treats the Good Guy doll as her baby and breastfeeds it.

Now *that’s* a tagline!

There is some suspense about what Chucky’s up to, or how he’s even there after a strong opening revealed seemingly contradictory information regarding Chucky’s fate since CURSE. This becomes a compelling subplot in which CHILD’S PLAY’s hero Andy (Alex Vincent, last seen as a 9 year old boy in part 2!) deals with being an adult forever tied to a killer doll. It’s so cool to see him grown up. Kind of a PHANTASM situation.

There’s a good amount of Chucky – sparing, but not stingy. Of course it’s still Brad Dourif (SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION)’s voice along with the excellent animatronic puppetry – they haven’t gone CGI Yoda yet. He still has kind of a bad sense of humor. He complains about Hannibal being cancelled (Mancini worked on it) and there’s some nod to ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST, obviously. I’m not really into those types of references, but something warmed my heart about Andy having a framed sweatshirt from the military academy that he attended in part 3 (when played by a different actor).

You know what, I still wonder what happened to Alex’s big foster sister Kyle from part 2. She was cool.

I think my favorite moment in the movie is early on, during a queasy-uncomfortable scene where we learn that (SPOILER) Andy keeps Chucky captive and tortures him for fun. Having cancelled a dinner date Andy says something like “Well, looks like it’s just you and me tonight, buddy.” And what I like is that it doesn’t sound like a taunt. It sounds like there’s some truth to the idea of the Good Guys “friend to the end” corniness. Andy is stuck fighting this asshole doll his whole life, might as well share a moment of levity and a puff of a joint with him. A nice little Elmore Leonard or HEAT type moment.

The meaning of the title is not what I expected and takes most of the movie to get to, as does the reveal of Chucky’s plans, which work as a suitably crazy outcome, but not as a setup for an exciting sequel. Nobody is gonna watch this and think “I can’t wait to see them continue from there!” They’re gonna think “I hope they don’t stick with that for long!” Fortunately, things start picking up in this last act. The climax has 3 or 4 really effective gore sequences to moisten the mood.

Though this is not one of the top CHUCKY pictures, and maybe the second weakest chapter after part 3, it’s still a fun time. It gets a big boost from the performance by the younger Dourif. She does have a small resemblance to her father, but clearly earned the role for herself. She treats the character with utmost respect and seriousness that makes her fight with a smartassed talking/killing doll somehow seem plausible.

All things considered I must conclude that this is worth watching to those of us who enjoy watching the Chucky pictures.

possible part 8s:

CIRCUS OF CHUCKY
ROAD OF CHUCKY
GYM OF CHUCKY
CHUCKY BOUGHT A ZOO
ISLAND OF THE CHUCKIES
CHUCKYLAND
LETHAL CHUCKY (Chris Sarandon returns for buddy cop movie with him and Chucky trailing a Charles Lee Ray copycat)
ALOHA CHUCKY
CHUCKLEBERRY FINN

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Monday, October 9th, 2017 at 7:30 am and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

22 Responses to “Cult of Chucky”

  1. It’s a good one.

    I’m very interested in seeing a behind the scenes feature on it.

    That one money scene towards the end was impressive. I could only imagine all the crazy coordination and synchronicity that must’ve gone into pulling off all that puppeteering at once considering how this crew is likely used to filming one puppet at a time.

    Also kudos to Dourif on all the subtle vocal inflections during that scene used to distinguish the cult. Pretty cool stuff.

  2. Spoilers for uncut version….

    Kyle shows up in the after credit sequence to continue the torture of Chucky’s head.

  3. I really liked this one. I still think this and the old Universal FRANKENSTEINs is the most consistent long-running horror series (weak links that are still enjoyable to me and all).

    I’m really digging what Mancini is doing with his creation. He’s not afraid to get weird and wild with the stories and tone. He’s definitely not someone playing it too safe. I’m also happy that his fanbase is mostly willing to go along with him rather than bitch that he stay the course (I mean I remember some fan grumbling with BRIDE and SEED but they didn’t abandon the series I think).

    I will disagree with Vern on one thing other than me liking it more than him because I am excited to see what Mancini has in store for us from here.

  4. RE: Lotep’s spoiler post
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    Wouldn’t it be real cool if we’re able to get a FAST 5/RESIDENT EVIL RETRIBUTION style team up of all the prior protagonists against Chucky and Tiffany? Kinda like how some FRIDAY THE 13th fans wanted them to do one where the prior final girls team up to go against Jason.

  5. Michael Mayket/emteem

    October 9th, 2017 at 8:24 am

    I haven’t seen this yet. My wife had only seen the first one so we’ve been doing a “Chucky Deep Dive” currently through part 3 to get to this one (which Forbes calls the Fast Five of Child’s Play movies).

    Possible spoilers.

    I had read Kyle appears during a post credits scene. Is this not true?

  6. Michael Mayket/emteem

    October 9th, 2017 at 8:25 am

    I swear there were no comments when I started mine. I know how to read.

  7. I thought this was ok. The screening I went to had a Q&A with Mancini/Tilly/Fiona Dourif that was more fun than the film itself.

    The plot was a mess, Andy’s ‘plan’ was just stupid, and the whole film had an air that it thought it was really way more clever than I thought it was. Chucky seems to have limitless powers where he can possess whatever he wants, whenever he wants, as many times as he wants. He apparently could have possessed any human whenever he liked, but has chosen to stay as a doll and break into a mental home to possess a girl in a wheelchair because it suits the continuity of the franchise.

    It was decent enough fun, had a couple of good kills, and looked nice enough, but it felt like something Mancini probably dashed off in a weekend and then just carried into production with no further work.

  8. Uhh, guys? I’m pretty sure that’s the joke. I’m prettttty sure Vern saw the end of the film.

  9. I think I literally said “I can’t wait to see them continue from there” at the end of this movie. There are a ton of fun directions they can go with the idea that people can voodoo their way into multiple bodies. I would totally be in for a sequel where, for example, the heroes use the Chucky head to track down and kill other Chuckies. It doesn’t have to be a permanent new direction for the franchise, but it would fun for one movie.

    Also, for some reason the Kyle end credits scene is only on the DVD and not the Netflix version. The Andy scene in Curse seemed like a throwaway teaser but actually ended up paying off in this movie, so it seems a good bet that Kyle will play a bigger role in the next sequel.

  10. I think you all know I loved this one and I cannot wait to see the next one. I just hope we get Chris Surandon back in one of these because I worry we won’t get any good hero characters. Alex Vincent, as neat as it is he is in it, is a terrible actor. The good guys need a good actor on their side.

    Also, the scene with the glass was so well acted and directed where I felt sad for the outcome.

  11. Well, the Netflix version does NOT have the post-credits stinger so it’s possible Vern didn’t see it. It’s on YouTube though.

  12. Well, at least now we have confirmation that Vern buckled and got Netflix at last.

    I love this series deep down in my soul. Realizing that the voice of Chucky was the same weirdo I’d seen in GRAVEYARD SHIFT and GRIM PRAIRIE TALES gave me my first exposure to the idea of the B-movie actor, and Brad Dourif has been my favorite ever since. For nearly 20 years, nobody ever knew who he was, but then he suddenly became respectable and beloved, and I was absolutely thrilled for him. So to have his daughter come into this series and fucking own it the way she has, and to know how proud of her he is (seriously, watch the special features on both CULT and CURSE to get a sense of how much I want to be a Dourif) well, it gives me all the goddamn feels. I love the family business aspect of this series. I like my horror mean, but I like my horror makers nice.

    I am also almost ready to come to terms with how disconcertingly sexy Fiona is doing an impersonation of her dad circa FATAL BEAUTY. Apparently, this is what I want: a beautiful brunette inhabited by the soul of a mega character actor. I love this movie.

    Also, I’ve been paying attention to how both Dourifs pronounce their name, and I’ve come to the conclusion at long last that the it’s closer to “durr-iff” than “door-iff.” Just in case you run into either one of them and feel like passing my name along as the guy who set you straight.

    Also also, I recently learned that Mancini has been one of horror’s few out-and-proud gay men for a long time now, which I think is awesome. Things are slowly getting better in other genre’s but I’ve always appreciated how horror has always had room for people of marginalized groups to express themselves safely. Going back over the series, I see lots of queer themes (Are we still using that word? Please correct me if we’re not) about secret relationships, hidden desires, gender fluidity, and identity confusion. SEED OF CHUCKY is a fucking goldmine for that shit. And yet Chucky also became a minor mascot in the hip-hop community, not exactly a hotbed of progressive thinking on the subject of human sexuality. I mean, they had Redman and John Waters in the same movie, both talking about how much they love Chucky. That’s some broad appeal right there.

    There’s just something to this little fucker. I hope he never stops coming back.

  13. (SPOILERS)

    Ha ha, I seriously didn’t know about that post-credits scene. I want the box set, but for now I watched it streaming. I even assumed there’d be a post-credits scene and was surprised when there wasn’t, but I genuinely didn’t think anyone besides me cared about bringing Kyle back!

    What I meant about not wanting to see the ending continued from is Chucky and Tiffany both being humans and not dolls. But I suppose given the logic of this movie they can have both at the same time.

  14. Vern, they are both human and dolls.

  15. Serious title suggestion for the next movie: Age of Chucky.

  16. My cousin suggested one when I rewatched it with her because of the final scene. She’s very colorful with her humor. It was so tasteless and darkly funny I’m sure someone will suggest it to Mancini unironically. She’s a lesbian and it was related to her orientation so I’m sure you guys could figure it out.

    I actually thought PRIDE OF CHUCKY could be cool. Then I found out there is an actual Child’s Play fan site with that name so scratch that.

  17. This has to be one of the most bizarre and unlikely long-running film franchises ever. It’s trashy even when it’s compelling, compelling even when it’s trashy; strangely forward-thinking while also leaning on our most backward-thinking fears. I would never recommend the series to most people because most of its defining characteristics are blatantly juvenile and/or purposefully offensive… and I’m also pretty sure that 3 out of the 7 movies are actually just bad movies… but it’s also heartwarming for the family/legacy aspect, and it also wins my heart for the questions of identity/gender that it embraces with a full-frontal lack of taste. It’s crazy to say that I appreciate the killer doll series because they have “heart!” But I do. And when you can legitimately hope that CHUCKY EIGHT could be its series’ FAST FIVE… we have crossed the Rubicon, there is no coming back. Bad taste has won, so I just hope that filmmakers with bad taste continue to have good morals.

  18. I thought this and CURSE were basically just okay but I’m totally cool with them continuing to do these until Dourif can’t/doesn’t want to keep grinding. Who among the FANGOers would’ve guessed that in AD 2017 Freddy and Jason would be on ice semi-permanently yet the Chuck would remain unfucked with?

  19. Sorta surprised you rank Cult so low. Here I’m debating whether it’s better than Bride or only as good. I just thought the multiple Chuckys angle was really clever and ambitious. Fair is fair tho, to each his own.

    The way it respects all the Continuity is great too, like the military academy.it happened. Don’t forget.

  20. The “geeze I can’t with this guy!” scene is hilarious. You know you’re one fucked up son of a bitch if you’re even too much for a serial killing voodoo soul to bear.

  21. Passion of (the)…

  22. I enjoyed how in CURSE they played it a little more restrained and mysterious, with the Chucky doll inexplicably showing up at this house and rebooting him as the more traditional lifeless creepy doll who does sinister shit off camera when no one’s looking. It reminded me somewhat of NIGHTMARE 7 in that a new premise, a more restrained use of the central slasher, and the passage of time somehow restored creepiness and menace. Of course, by about 2/3 of the way through, they went more full-on wisecracking Brad Dourif, and I think the film suffered a bit, but I still dug it.

    In this one, they follow the trajectory of the last 1/3 of CURSE, and it’s a bit less grounded, but it worked for me, since I think they were more upfront about embracing that tone pretty much from the jump. Dourif does some good work in this, and he’s given some good dialogue. That same line Broddie quoted really gave me a chuckle.

    Of course, I’d love to see what they’d do with a bigger budget, but I think Mancini continues to make good use of more limited locations. There’s a bit of a weird nightmarish feel with this place being such a pristine white, including all the orderlies wearing white and the nurse with the old timey nurse uniform and the old timey white padded room. I enjoyed the overt weirdness.

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