October! Is it the best month of the year? Well, it’s got eleven others to contend with, although, not really; everyone can agree January is bullshit, so then we’re down to ten. February is pretty pointless and April is a waste of time. Of the Spring months, only March is half-decent. That leaves us with just the summer months and the Christmas months to compete against October for best month. Well, Christmas is expensive and summer is fucking hot. So as good as those months are, they’re limited in what they can do. So to conclude; October is the best month. It has always been the best month and it always will be. I should spend the rest of the year trying to make the other months more like October.
And when October does finally roll around, I think it’s crucial to milk it for all it’s worth. Every day needs to feel like October! With that in mind, I’m working hard to make this Halloween season my best one yet. I’ve already carved ten pumpkins this season and set fire to one, and it’s only the third (I started just after Labor Day, though). I spent my birthday on a ghost hunt searching for signs of the paranormal in the allegedly haunted Black Star Canyon. I baked a pumpkin pie from scratch. And I’m already making plans to visit various haunted walkthroughs, theme parks and have other fun and spooky experiences, too. I love October and I love Halloween.
It looks like a big part of my All Hallow’s adventures this year will involve indulging in the nostalgia of old horror flicks. Saturday I watched It (2017) for the second time and just this past night I attended a screening of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974). I’m pleased to say it still holds up. It’s so delightfully weird and macabre and it was great to see it in a theatre with a bunch of other nerds. Well, just about four years ago, I did a review for this site of the last Chucky film, Curse of Chucky (2013) which I rather enjoyed at the time but have yet to revisit since writing my initial review. However, today a new film in that series dropped, Cult of Chucky (2017) and I couldn’t wait to start watching it.
The Child’s Play series has been a guilty pleasure for me for years and years, and while many people would tell you that it has had its ups and downs in terms of quality, my rebuttal to that would be as follows: no it hasn’t. This series has always been of extremely questionable quality, if not outright terrible. I guess you could argue that it’s oscillated a bit from straight horror to ultra-campy horror comedy, but, I mean, really? How seriously were we ever supposed to take the idea of a tiny murdering doll possessed by the spirit of an evil white voodoo practitioner? The series has always been camp and that does not make me enjoy it any less. But whatever the case is, Chucky is the oldest surviving member of the eighties horror pantheon. Freddy was rebooted. Jason was rebooted. Hellraiser. And none of them have had a film for a while. But Chucky’s original continuity is still going strong!
Now, I write this having not really watched any of the films in this series recently, so maybe I’d change my tune if I did. Still, I like Chucky because he’s ridiculous, not in spite of it. I remember going to the theater to see Bride of Chucky (1998) when I was twelve and even then, while I took it more seriously than I do now, I understood that it was a largely comedic piece. I watched it again in the past few years and it was much sillier than I ever remembered, but my point stands: Chucky is an over-the-top, ridiculous character and that’s what makes him awesome.
Now, onto the review proper: I must say that Cult of Chucky hooked me in the opening scene when Andy Barclay (played by Alex Vincent, the same actor who played the character as a six year old) pulled Chucky’s head out of a safe in his house and, frustrated that a date had rejected him, got to torturing the poor evil doll (who I guess has been conscious this whole time) with a blowtorch. Classic. Classic Chucky movie. Off to a good start.
After the fun opening we cut to Nica, the girl from the previous installment, who is played by Chucky actor Brad Dourif’s real-life daughter Fiona Dourif. I remember being pleased then that Chucky didn’t turn out to be her real father in some kind of Darth Vader plot twist I was fully expecting. Now, she’s been convinced by her shrink that she is actually responsible for the murders Chucky himself committed and is locked up in a mental institution, and she spends a good bit of the movie wondering whether she actually was crazy, even after Chucky himself seems to reappear.
The idea of setting it in a mental institution is a good one. Besides being a reference to Chucky actor Brad Dourif’s most famous work One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – which is referenced several times in this film, including by Chucky himself – it allows the evil doll to move about largely unnoticed. Anyone who claims they saw or spoke to Chucky is ignored and dismissed as crazy, with predictably tragic results. The cast that Chucky has to chop up eventually are all more sympathetic and very well acted for the most part. There’s a woman who has lost her baby and takes the Good Guy Doll that the skeevy Dr. Foley brings in (to help the therapy, for some reason) as a surrogate. There’s Multiple Malcolm (Adam Hurtig) who as his name suggests cycles through various personalities including Mark Zuckerberg and even Charles Lee Ray himself.
I really liked the look of this film; everything is stark white in the asylum and the colors are harsh. The characters in the institution are all pretty tragic; Chucky takes advantage of this as he sneaks throughout the facility. We get some callbacks to the older movies in this series too (like a mention of the difference between a ‘multiple murderer’ and a ‘mass murderer’ first brought up in Bride). So far, it seems like they’ll be playing this pretty straight.
Eventually, however, writer/director Don Mancini can’t help himself from including a bit of the cheese that he so enjoyed putting into some of the previous entries in the series. There is a moment, for example, where Chucky bemoans the cancellation of Hannibal. That’s the type of pop culture reference that would be at home in Seed of Chucky but didn’t really show up in the earlier installments. While funny, it serves to sort of date the film and pull you out of it.
Aside from quibbles about moments like that, however, I really enjoyed this movie. The suspense is handled effectively – there were moments where even I wondered if Chucky had actually returned and was gaslighting Nica, or if she was just crazy – and it’s choc full of references to the earlier films too. Jennifer Tilly appears, and poor Andy Barclay goes through quite a bit in his quest to destroy Chucky once and for all. There’s no real reference to Chucky’s son/daughter Glen/Glenda from Seed of Chucky but the rest of the mythos is paid homage to, and Chucky may even have picked up a few new voodoo powers since we last saw him.
Overall, I really liked Cult of Chucky. A nice horror film, played mostly straight but with some of the Chucky comedy that I personally enjoy. And of course the over-the-top murders and the doll that can somehow sneak everywhere and carry out killings and other acts without anyone noticing.
If you’re a Chucky fan, I recommend this. As for me, I’ll be moving on to my next October movie, which I think will be a review of the new Hatchet film, Victor Crowley, that I am hoping to go see on Friday. See you then!