I admire writer/director Don Mancini for keeping his horror franchise going for this long. Seven movies in about 30 years, Chucky manages to keep coming back every few years with his trademark bad attitude. Figuring out how to get a two-foot tall doll to murder people is quite an achievement.
The last movie, Curse, was surprisingly good. Really creative, got every dime of the budget on screen, and they managed to make Chucky a real threat and the end was solid.
Cult follows Nica, the main survivor of the last film and Chucky’s main obsession (aside from Tiff), to a new psychiatric facility. Once again, no one believes Chucky is real, the murders from the last ordeal were done by Nica. She’s mentally ill and isn’t criminally responsible for the murders. After the trauma and intense (shock) therapy she believes Chucky isn’t real either. And then the doctor brings a Good Guy doll to the facility and people start dying again. Andy (the longest running human character in the series) finds out what’s going and rushes to help Nica.
Much like Curse, Cult is pretty much locked into one location. It offers a sense of claustrophobia and the foreboding sense that there is no way to escape. Only one person knows of the threat in the building and Chucky is free to sneak around causing mayhem and confusion. It’s classic 80’s horror set up (like Nightmare on Elm Steet, the parents don’t listen to the kids until it’s too late). Mancini has a knack for coming up with new scenarios to make his little monster work. And he has to because if Chucky doesn’t get the jump on people, a swift kick is going to hinder his plans. The doubt, the questions of sanity, the snowballing of events with Chucky’s new trick, the great special effects work to make Chucky a menace all come together well. It’s not a scary movie, but twisted and fun. It fits the franchise. There are quite a few deaths and there’s a good amount of blood, but nothing terribly creative or memorable (Chucky has always been a fan simplicity, stabbing usually gets the job done).
There’s a significant time jump between movies so there is some confusion at the start about how this is all came together. Most of it is answered though. Fiona Dourif is once again fantastic as Nica, she carries the movie. Her work in the final scenes is fantastic stuff.
Child’s Play is an easy horror movie franchise to forget but every time it comes around I’m happy to give it another go. After a super wacky mid-section (Bride and Seed) I like the path Mancini has found now. The doors are wide open for a sequel and I’ll be there for part 8.