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Generally speaking, if a horror series makes it to ‘entry number 7’ you’d best steer clear of a product that is still financially viable but that – in most cases – has had any and all creative juice completely drained out of it.
An obvious exception to this rule is New Nightmare, Wes Craven’s gripping return to Elm Street that set the template for Scream’s self-reflexive filmmaking by blurring the border between film and reality. Cult of Chucky movie doesn’t dive deep into the meta-path and refuses to reinvent the saga but stands proudly as a welcome reminder of why Chucky has earned his spot in the slasher hall of fame.
A rarity in the world of horror sequels, Don Mancini is still in full control of the brain child he conceived back in 1988. Probably because of the original creator’s keen understanding of what made Child’s Play tick the blueprint can be extended on without turning its back at the fundamentals of the series and while avoiding the pitfalls of formulaic sequel-churning. Mancini manages the aforementioned feet by, on the one hand, doubling down on the series’ penchant for continuity and on the other splicing Chucky’s offbeat repartee back into the DNA.
Even if the possessed Good Guy doll made his debut via slashing and dashing, Chucky has always been ill-mouthed, snarky and relishing the corruption of his murderous ways with morbid humor. Yet, fans who loved the mostly horror-oriented Curse of Chucky may be in for a let-down. The atmospheric build of its franchise-revitalizing predecessor is loosely absent, but this is by purpose. We are instead treated to a movie in which a wrongfully accused Nica’s incarceration in an insane nut house plays out like a demented romp in the loony bin: a world where psychologically ill caricatures like ‘Multiple Malcolm’, the ghostlike Angela and infant-smothering Madeline exist both as fodder for Chucky’s knife and foils for his banter.
The thematic underpinnings are slight, certainly, but Mancini’s latest does have something to say about how a guilt-trip can hide the seeds for self-destruction. In Curse we got to know Nica (the impressive Fiona Dourif) as a strong-hearted heroine whose wit and survival spirit allowed her to overcome any amount of adversity. In Cult of Chucky full movie we see how she’s brought closer and closer to the verge of her downfall.
Chucky clearly has a hand in this by refusing to get even with her by merely exacting revenge. As always, he is on the hunt for a human vessel to possess and all the murders are done with the purpose of framing Nica, convincing her she has been the bloodlust killer all along. In its own way Cult of Chucky full movie posits that negative self-perception and doubt leave the door slightly opened so madness can swoop in. Throughout the first act Mancini messes with the viewers’ perception as well, wittily delivering confusion by way of multiple Chucky dolls coming at the clinic. Seeing is not necessarily believing in this outing.
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