Tuesday, February 6, 2018

In short: Cult of Chucky (2017)

After the events of Curse of Chucky, surviving heroine Nica (Fiona Dourif) has been shipped off into an institution for the criminally insane. Supposedly, she is responsible for all the deaths in that movie actually committed by everyone’s favourite living murder doll Chucky (as always voiced by Brad Dourif). Clearly, we are not in a CSI show. By now, Nica’s creepy psychiatrist Dr. Foley (Michael Therriault) has her convinced there was indeed no living doll involved in the murders, and that she’s totally bonkers. As a reward for that “insight”, Foley brings Nica to a less strict institution.

Of course, Chucky is very real indeed, and uses the opportunity to make Nica’s life miserable again. Also involved are good old Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent), Chucky’s wife and murder-partner Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly), various caricatures of the mentally ill, and a new trick Chucky has learned. Let’s just say the film might as well have been called Army of Chucky.

To be able to enjoy the newest of Don Mancini’s Child’s Play/Chucky movies, the interested viewer needs to be clear about one thing: this is not a movie at all interested in even pretending to take place in the real world. So psychiatric clinics do not work even the tiniest bit like they do in the real world, mental illnesses only have the vaguest connection to any you’d find around here, not to speak of security measures or rescue plans.

If you’re able to get over that – I certainly am – you just might find a lot here to enjoy. Mancini mostly manages to create a mood of proper weirdness, interspersed with quite a few good suspense sequences and bunch of sardonic bloody murders. The pacing is a little off sometimes, particularly when it comes to the scenes with Andy which turn out to be too much build-up to a whole lot of nothing, but there’s always something pleasantly bizarre, outrageous and fun just waiting around the corner of the next scene. Brad Dourif and Jennifer Tilly and their excellent doll bodies are as always a macabre joy, while Fiona Dourif manages to give the whole affair at least some grounding in relatable humanity in what’s a bit of an ultimate straight woman performance, as the supposedly mad (mad!, I tell you) woman who is actually the only sane person in the whole of the film, an irony she and Mancini’s script obviously realize.

This is fun horror of a right now somewhat old-fashioned style that neither properly fits into the realm of slow horror (I’ll call it “post-horror” only if I’m getting paid for that) nor the ultra-calculated house of horrors style of the The Conjuring films and their ilk; despite being the hundredth film in a franchise, this a curiously individual film.

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