Child’s Play, the original Chucky movie, hit theaters at the height the 80s wacky horror film trend. Inspired in part by the later Nightmare on Elm Street flicks, amongst others, it took the horror genre in a further silly, snarky, self-aware direction that came full circle with Wes Craven‘s Scream franchise. And much like the Elm Street franchise it became a more cartoonish parody of itself with each new sequel. Not so with Cult of Chucky, the new straight to video sequel that trades in much of the series’ humor for scares.
This sixth installment of the franchise follows 2013’s Curse of Chucky‘s lead in shedding its more ridiculous aspects, while keeping much of what makes the series such a cult favorite. Series creator, and the writer of every Chucky movie, Don Mancini, returns to the director’s chair for the second time, and he brought friends. Brad Dourif is back as the voice of your favorite Good Guy, along with Jennifer Tilley as Chucky’s bloodthirsty bride, and Alex Vincent once again plays the original “friend til the end”, Andy. But the film’s star is Fiona Dourif returning as Nica, now stuck in a mental hospital after the events of the last movie.
After losing her family at the hands of the murderous serial killer Charles Lee Ray in the form of Chucky, Nica must convince everyone that she’s not crazy or making it up, and fast, as the homicidal doll has come to finish the job and kill anyone who gets in his way.
There is plenty here to love if you’re a fan of the franchise, with jump scares and one-liners coming at you with equal frequency, and while the humor has been toned down quite a bit the violence has become more gruesome to make up for it. Some of the untimely ends facing these inmates and staff are seriously brutal, and the crew seems to relish the gore.
The story isn’t anything special, especially if you’ve seen any of the other Chucky films, but what the cast and crew does with this rather run-of-the-mill tale is a lot of fun, including an interesting twist that I won’t ruin here. Mancini has become an assured director, seemingly incredibly comfortable behind the lights and cameras, and it shows. For such a dumb movie it is filmed wonderfully. Fiona Dourif is great as Nica, while a little overly dramatic. Her father, Brad, brings back his menacingly gleeful voice to the role, and the chemistry between the two of them is magical. Jennifer Tilley is as over-the-top as we’ve come to expect as the homicidal Tiffany, balanced by Alex Vincent’s more downplayed Andy. You can see how much fun they had filming, as their characters are fully in on the joke of the silly premise and continued success of these movies. The Blu-ray includes Inside the Insanity of Cult of Chucky, a behind-the-scenes featurette showing what it was like on set, along with Good Guy Gone Bad: The Incarnations of Chucky and a feature commentary with Writer/Director Don Mancini and Head Puppeteer Tony Gardner.
Cult of Chucky is easily the best in the series, since the original Child’s Play at least. Menace has replaced the camp of the last few entries in the franchise, but it still has enough puns to periodically break the tension. Cult of Chucky is a return to form for the series, and a fun breath of fresh air in a genre that takes itself way too seriously these days.
Cult of Chucky is in stores today on DVD, Blu-ray, digital, and on-demand today.