Cult of Chucky (2017)

*. In my notes on Curse of Chucky I made use of a lot of franchise language. That film wasn’t a sequel so much as a piece of a larger “universe.” I also said that the ending (complete with signature Marvel post-credit sequence) was setting up something like an endgame, in a manner similar to the two-part finale of Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
*. Cult of Chucky is the endgame of Child’s Play, though the release of a reboot in 2019 would herald the possible beginning of a new phase. Like the two-part Marvel finale (Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame), Cult of Chucky matches up with Curse of Chucky in going together to make a sort of two-part bookend to the series. Starting right with the reintroduction of Andy Barclay and the “greatest hits” featured in the credit sequence, Cult of Chucky basically brings everyone back together for one last dance. Even Kyle from Child’s Play 2 makes a post-credit appearance. About the only faces missing are Chris Sarandon (too bad) and Glen/Glenda (a welcome omission).
*. Actually, looking back on the series I see three such pairings. Child’s Play and Child’s Play 2 go together, with the second film being basically just a replay of the first. Child’s Play 3 is the outlier. Bride of Chucky and Seed of Chucky are the two Tiffany movies, while Curse of Chucky and Cult of Chucky (both shot in Winnipeg, by the way) are the Nica films.
*. I suppose this all sounds very Inside Baseball, but Cult of Chucky is that kind of movie. Where earlier instalments could be quite meta in their borrowings (probably nowhere more so than in Seed of Chucky), Cult of Chucky keeps most of the references in-house. It’s still quoting and borrowing a lot, but quoting and borrowing from earlier films in the series. Like an argument over the difference between a mass murderer and a mulitiple murderer, and a shot where Chucky sees himself reflected in the blade of one of his knives. That sort of thing.
*. Curiously, on the commentary writer-director Don Mancini mentions the scene where the character of Claire is killed by falling glass as just being an attempt to do something new. I thought it was clearly meant to echo the scene in Bride of Chucky where Tiffany kills the couple in the love motel. Wasn’t it? I don’t see how he couldn’t have been aware of that connection.

*. Once again Mancini wanted to change registers, and so took the haunted house from the previous film and turned it into the gleaming fluorescent asylum here. And this is a change I was on board with. Unfortunately, the plot is too scrambled for its own good, and for a franchise finale I thought it took way too many liberties with the canon. Not that I’m any kind of Chucky purist, but when you get this crazy you tend to create a lot of confusion.
*. To make the obvious point: Chucky is now revealed to be not only immortal (like all the iconic slashers of his generation), but infinitely divisible and transferable as well. With these new powers (cribbed by a handbook on Voodoo for Dummies) how long can it be before he takes over the entire planet? One gets the sense that Mancini didn’t spend a lot of time thinking this through.
*. Things also end up on an odd note. It’s a bit of a downer, with evil triumphant and good destroyed, but more than that Chucky himself has disappeared and we are left with the trio of psycho ladies driving off into the night (with Tiffany apparently multiplying now as well). I guess the point is that Chucky has dissolved into the wider public bloodstream, on his way to infecting all of us. Not a bad way to wrap things up, but morally discouraging and curiously anticlimactic. With Phase One complete the stage was cleared for an ugly reboot, which was soon to arrive.

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