After being terrorized over and over by Chucky (Brad Dourif), the serial killer trapped in a child’s doll, Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) seemingly has things under control, given he keeps the head of the doll behind lock and key with a blowtorch ready to melt him out of existence.
Meanwhile, Nica Pierce (Fiona Dourif) is held in a medium-security psychiatric facility after being framed for Chucky’s last batch of murders. Even as she explains to psychologist Dr. Foley (Michael Therriault) what really happened, she knows no one will actually believe her.
To remedy her mental strife, Dr. Foley brings into the psych ward an old 1980s model “Good Guy” doll named Chucky, which seems to rile up everybody except for Nica.
As inessential as they are to the plot, it is hard to look past the stereotypical representation of mental illness in these characters. They are defined by their delusions or their multiple personalities, as if people in treatment are nothing more than a single extreme symptom. It wouldn’t even be a frustration worth mentioning if these characters weren’t given excessive screentime, but they are.
Once the plot of the film begins, with Chucky going to town on the shooting gallery of victims at his disposal, none of this setup really matters. The characters and their motivations are unimportant in the face of tongue-in-cheek slasher set pieces.
Cult of Chucky is receiving some praise for its cheekiness, for being a self-aware spoof of the genre. But the Child’s Play franchise has seemingly always been a spoof of itself, as if the series has earned the right to be in on the joke that exists only within its own sphere.
The film is not skewering genre. It is not being clever or transgressive or different. In actuality, it appears to be taking itself more seriously than other film’s in the series. It is a spoof only insofar as people have forgotten how tedious this slasher franchise has become.
The film doesn’t mince words. It jumps quickly into a basic slasher formula, with the creepy doll stalking its way down sterile white hallways to torment Nica. Sure, Dourif’s slicing three feet of plastic makes for some fun and bloody set pieces. But the film will still pause for cringe-inducing, telegraphed dialogue, as if the plot cannot move forward without some arbitrary auditory signpost to point the way.
Even if the film played by its own rules, which it doesn’t, it would succeed in only providing one or two moments of bloody delight. If all you need to enjoy a horror film is off-putting overexposed white rooms and frequent extreme canted angles, then this movie will be disquieting. But these tactics feel gimmicky and ugly more than effective. Moreover, Cult of Chucky is a tedious, low-intelligence continuation of one of the lesser ’80s slasher franchises.
Cult of Chucky: C-
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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)