Thursday, October 12, 2017

Film Review: Cult of Chucky (2017)

Cult of Chucky (Review)
United States/2017
Format Viewed for Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No
*A 31 Days of Halloween Review Special!

"It unfortunately does not build on the good aspects of the previous film and instead goes in a different direction. I still liked it..."

Four years after the events of the previous film, Nica (Fiona Dourif) finds herself in a mental institution after being framed by Chucky (Brad Dourif). She starts to believe she's healing until a Good Guy doll shows up at the facility...

Cult of Chucky is a sequel to Curse of Chucky, which was a welcome return to the franchise's roots. The film begins with Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) returning home after a bad date. He proceeds to torture the original head of Chucky, which is still conscious. Meanwhile, after successful treatment, Nica is transferred to a medium-security mental institution. All is well until her doctor brings a Good Guy doll to therapy. Things get worse when more dolls show up and people start dying. There are some new, interesting ideas in here, but they're not really fleshed out. The big idea, which I won't spoil, feels lazy and tacked on, explained through a weak joke. The ending was interesting but disappointing. It doesn't leave a strong impression.

Cult of Chucky is a mishmash of good and bad. First of all, this film doesn't follow Curse of Chucky's lead in returning the franchise's horror roots. Instead, this feels like one of the sequels—it's dark, violent, humorous, and often absurd. I wasn't initially a big fan of the lighthearted tone, for lack of a better phrase, but it eventually grew on me. It has some surprisingly witty lines—and a handful of bad ones. In terms of horror, there really isn't any suspense or atmosphere here. Therefore, it's not a scary movie in any sense. It is, however, very gory. This film has some of the series' most gruesome death scenes. It's not a suitable replacement for tense, unnerving horror, but at least it's something. Oh, and I also liked some of its dream-like visuals—that was a great addition.

The acting is also a mishmash of good and bad. Again, like in the previous film, Fiona Dourif performs well during the first two acts. Hell, I'd even say she's improved quite a bit over the years. She stumbles during the final act, though. She just couldn't really match the character—and she should have worked on that laugh. Brad Dourif is great, as usual. Alex Vincent is stiff and unnatural. Adam Hurtig was good, though. I can go on, but you get the point: some good, some bad. The film was shot well and I liked the music. The special effects were good, too. The film was written and directed by Don Mancini. Mancini took a risk by, once again, changing the overall mood of the franchise. This is more of a horror-comedy hybrid and, although it is ultimately entertaining, it doesn't leave a strong impression. He seems to be aiming at everything with his writing while explaining very little. He knows how to direct a violent slasher, but his writing could use some work. Mancini and I can agree on one thing, though: they shouldn't have canceled Hannibal.

Overall, Cult of Chucky is a good movie. It unfortunately does not build on the good aspects of the previous film and instead goes in a different direction. I still liked it—the gruesome death scenes were impressive and I laughed a few times—but it just didn't feel great. As I already stated, it didn't leave a strong impression. It's worth a stream on Netflix or a rental if you're a fan of the series.

Score: 6/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore.

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