CULT OF CHUCKY [Frightfest Review]

PrintE-mail Written by Charlie Oughton

There is a strange, quiet beauty in the minimalism of the medical environment in this most anticipated feature concerning one of the icons of horror cinema…until that little ginger fucker adds a bloodbath of colour, that is! Writer/director Don Mancini is back with a few friends for the 7th instalment of the Child’s Play ‘killer doll’ series. It has enough backstory to satisfy hardcore fans and posts a perfect warning to the curious as well.

The action starts a few years after Curse of Chucky. Serial killer Charles Lee Ray (voiced by The Lord of the Rings’ Brad Dourif) is still trapped inside the infamous Good Guy “Chucky” doll and Nica, the daughter of his former love-interest (and Brad’s real-life daughter, Fiona) is in a sanitorium on account of being framed for multiple murders. The plot sees the little monster run merrily amok in the ‘loonybin’ with characters who can’t make up their minds just how mad they actually are (or indeed, would like to be). Confused yet? You will be, but that’s part of the joy of this caper. The deaths are as daft and gory as you’d hope (and, sssh – Chuckies are rather sweet-tempered sometimes), but filming actually gives an icy blast that makes you marvel at the magic of even ‘schlock’ cinema to switch mood on a dime. We waft from mourning via some really gorgeous cinematography to split-screen, realism-out-the-window madness in a moment.

Director Don Mancini even does a nifty job of splicing utter fan-friendliness with the occasional social comment. No – really – Seed of Chucky was about self-acceptance (with a lot of murder chucked in). Here, it becomes impossible to just ignore the plight of the asylum patients Nica meets, with Elizabeth Rosen’s ‘Madeline’ a particular standout. She is complemented by Michael Therriault as a manipulative, squicky shrink in the One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest mould. Some of the minor characters’ acting is a little too hammy to work fully, but that does stop the action from becoming too serious because the real star isn’t, well, real.

The Dourifs make this look so easy. Brad’s ventriloquism of Chucky’s inability to decide whether he wants to up his game or just sit and watch seems pleasantly genuine in a cynical serial-killer type of way, but the real revelation is Fiona as Nica. We know from Curse that she can do doe-eyed n’ desperate, but a nifty little plot point allows her to get her ‘dom’ on…just in time for scene-stealing appearances by the one and only Jennifer Tilly as Chucky’s lover, Tiffany. Tilly remains as delightfully subversive as she ever has been and she’s got it licked.

Cult of Chucky takes the franchise to its (psycho!)logical conclusion. There is daffy, orange Easter eggs aplenty and enough blood to entertain the (as yet) uninitiated. Is Chucky still fucking with us? Oh yes, he is!

CULT OF CHUCKY / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: DON MANCINI / STARRING: BRAD DOURIF, FIONA DOURIF, ALEX VINCENT, GRACE LYNN KUNG / RELEASE DATE: 23RD OCTOBER (UK DVD/BLU-RAY RELEASE)



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