I have a very casual relationship with the Chucky films – I didn’t even see the first one until perhaps five years ago. It’s probably got everything to do with the conceit that I don’t find the whole scary doll thing intimidating. I think I watch two and skipped three, or perhaps it was the other way around… Either way those sequels didn’t make much of an impression on me… I thought Seed was just too weird, really liked Bride. I think that’s the whole ambivalence towards the scary doll thing talking again… The tonal shift really appealed to me as the films became a little more self-aware around then. Not quite an all out comedy, but very much a comic book type of film – and the addition of Jennifer Tilly to the series was actually a boost.
When Curse of Chucky was announced a couple of years ago, I found myself interested in the soft reboot. I wasn’t sure how this would work, going back to a more serious tone but all of the early reviews came in very positive. Once I finally caught it, I enjoyed the modern style and more serious tone. They played it straight without taking the material to seriously – it was a perfect balance, and they still acknowledged the continuity! This is something that has always impressed me about the Chucky franchise, particularly now that we are into some much later sequelsspread across the decades. They have never abandoned the continuity or gone for a complete revamp. In this day of remakes and relaunchs, that’s a brave and impressive and remarkable feat.
Cult of Chucky manages to be both a direct sequel to Curse, while still retaining its place as a general sequel to the childs play series. Again, no mean feat – particuarly since it manages to come up with a reasonably interesting take on the material. It immediately draws you in and gets you on board with the film. There was a little bit of jumping early on, but they managed to get you invested very quickly. Not only is Fiona Doruff back, but also returning is Alex Vincent – the actor from the very first Chucky movie, and with him is a scarred, mutilated Chucky head – still talking it little lips off.
Vincent is actually woefully underused in this film, his appearance comprising at best a “B”storyline that doesn’t quite pay off in the end… But that’s really where the problem lies. This movie is very much the second entry in a trilogy, and while I’m thoroughly entertained by 90% of it, that last 10% left me hanging and unfulfilled. That’s the real disappointment here, there is ways to do a middle entry where it still resolves enough at the end to leave you satisfied – Empire Strikes Back did it. Heck, even Star Trek 3 managed it. With this movie, I’m left hanging without the knowledge of whether or not they’ll be a sequel – and there’s the rub.
Cult of Chucky leaked online about a week and a half early, which is going to affect the performance numbers. This in particular annoys me because the film was literally coming to Netflix a week or two later. I’m not above a little bit of piracy when something is not readily available – not in stores, not on any streaming service, out of print and therefore prohibitively expensive, or is only showing for three nights in one theatre in Albuquerque… That wasn’t the case here. It wasn’t even going to the theatre, not some limited release, it was coming to fricking Netflix (and others!)! This is available to all. Come on guys! You’re ruining it for us all!
Quite frankly, I find myself wishing they had filmed this and the next entry back to back – done in such a way where they can tag a trailer at the end of the film (like Lord of the Rings or Back to the Future part two) to build up anticipation. As it is I find myself sitting here hoping that piracy hasn’t sunk this franchise just as it was getting back on its feet. I don’t want to wait another 14 years for the closing chapter of the story arc, much the way I had to with the Phantasm series.
Still, if you can get past the dangling threads of the ending, this is a fun film – It’s been compared a lot to Nightmare three, a comparison that is well earned in a lot of ways, but don’t expect more than homage from it. Fire up Netflix and give this one a shot – and while you’re at it, if you’re interested in knowing what I thought of the movie as I was watching it, you can keep this transcript handy – where I was jotting my thoughts down as the film rolled!