Its hard to believe that its been 4 years since I saw Curse of Chucky at FrightFest 2013 in the huge Empire Leicester Square. Back then Don Mancini blew my mind by making a character that had become pure comedy into something scary again.
Flash forward to the opening night of FrightFest 2017 and I am back at the Empire (although now its a Cineworld and the wonderful huge screen has been split in two) and so is Chucky and let me tell you Mancini has bloody well done it again because Cult of Chucky is fantastic.
Picking up after Curse which took place 25 years after the original Childs Play wheelchair bound Nica (Fiona Dourif) is now institutionalised after being blamed for the murders of the previous movie. Convinced by her psychotherapist Dr Foley (Hemlock Grove’s Michael Therriault) that she invented Chucky as a mask for her own murderous machinations she spends her days desperately trying to recover while constantly regretting her past.
Unbeknownst to everyone the killer doll is being kept captive by an equally understandably unhinged Andy Barclay (Childs Play 1 and 2 star Alex Vincent) who has Chucky’s head in safe which he gets out to talk with and torture in an attempt himself to deal with his horrifying history.
Things start to unravel for everyone when Dr Foley brings a Good Guy doll into a therapy session with Nica and some of the other patients believing it will help them all confront some home truths. This plus a visit from Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly) to tell Nica that her niece, the only person left alive she truly loved, has passed away pushes her over the edge. However Chucky isn’t going to let Nica off that easily and his grand plan involves tearing apart her world piece by piece with a little help from some friends.
Balancing all the elements you want from a Childs Play movie including epic kills, gallons of gore, some spectacular effects and puppetry from Tony Gardner as well as plenty of wise cracks from Chucky voiced as ever by the brilliant Brad Dourif Cult of Chucky also brings in new ideas and concepts fans will have never seen.
The institute is a white walled sterile environment covered in constant snow where the tragic patients wander round in monochrome coloured clothes all of which will be stained red once the devilish doll arrives. As well as the great design Mancini’s direction is equally excellent combining stylised split screen shots and slow mo with some great jump scares that will have you out of your seat for sure.
The casting of Fiona Dourif is inspired not only for the legacy of the franchise but because she is a superb actor capable of making you feel the true fear that had been somewhat lacking in the sequels before Curse. Nica’s disability put her in more peril from Chucky physically in the last film but in Cult of Chucky it is her mind that is at risk as Chucky psychologically toys with her while everyone around her is convinced she is a mentally damaged mass murderer.
Equally exciting is the return of Jennifer Tilly who is as deliciously deranged as ever as Tiffany and Alex Vincent as Andy perhaps the most interesting and bleak character of all. Living in isolation in a gun filled cabin in the middle of nowhere Mancini’s transformation of Andy and his twisted relationship with Chucky is both hilarious and horrifying as the mutilated head of his greatest enemy has somehow become his only companion and connection to the outside world.
Gleefully self referential and containing some killer quips Cult of Chucky is also dark and disturbing and downright scary at times. Best of all it is an evolution of the Childs Play films taking them on a new direction that the fans will never expect but will most definitely approve of.
Now seven films in Mancini and the extremely talented team he has amassed around him prove iconic horror villains like Chucky can be kept alive and fresh if you have passion, imagination and the willingness to take risks something the industry needs to take note of before rebooting or remaking the next classic character and killing it off in the process.