Cult of Chucky (2017)

When filming a Hollywood sequel, there are many methods in which writers and directors can bring back characters who have died in previous installments. The flashback is perhaps the easiest way to include new footage of a deceased character without breaking continuity. Directors can bring back the dead as ghosts, a’la Obi-Wan Kenobi. And then there are wackier methods; explaining away the person who died as the character’s evil (or good) twin, or claiming the death occurred in a dream sequence, unbeknownst to audiences.

Horror writers have it the easiest because, I guess, horror audiences are so forgiving. No matter how many times Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, or Michael Myers get killed, drowned, incinerated, or blown to smithereens, all it takes is 30 seconds of exposition to resurrect them. A random lightning strike or voodoo spell is enough to bring back the dead and get the murders rolling again.

We first met Chucky, the killer doll possessed by the soul of serial killer Charles Lee Ray, in 1988’s Child’s Play. In the original film we learned that the longer Ray’s spirit remained in Chucky the more human he became. He was so human by the end of the film, in fact, that a police detective was able to kill Chucky by firing a bullet into his beating heart. And if you think that stopped him, you haven’t seen any of the following six films in the franchise released over the past twenty-nine years.

At the end of 2013’s Curse of Chucky, the sixth film in the series, we witness Chucky transferring his soul into the body of a young girl named Alice. In the final, post-credits scene, Chucky has mailed himself to Andy Barclay (the young boy from the original film, now grown up) and attempts to stab him. Andy counters by placing a shotgun inches away from the doll’s head and pulling the trigger. This had to have been the end of Chucky, right?


In 2017’s Cult of Chucky we rejoin Nica, the wheelchair-bound girl from the previous film, who is being transferred from a maximum security mental institution to one with medium security. The other residents in the new facility make the folks from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest look downright normal, as she is welcomed by patients with multiple personalities, paranoia, and delusions. Nica is visited in the institution by Tiffany Valentine (a known murderer and accomplice of Charles Lee Ray) and given a Chucky doll. The twisted and sick Dr. Foley doesn’t see anything wrong with this, even after Nica apparently attempts to slit her own wrists. When a second doll arrives and faculty, staff, and patients all begin dropping like flies, Dr. Foley sees this is a therapeutic teaching opportunity.

Audiences spend much of the film trying to figure out which of the Chucky dolls is the killer, until finally we learn that they both are. Chucky has gained the ability to transfer his soul into anyone or anything (a power he says he learned from the internet) as many times as he wants. Keeping up with who is who, who is Chucky, and who is not, is fair game.

At this point, my mind began to wander. Could Chucky take over a car lot, creating a hundred killer Herbie the Death Bugs? Could he take over furniture, smothering innocent people looking to take a load off their feet? Once you can transfer your soul into inanimate objects (like dolls) and do it an unlimited amount of times, it seems (to me) that limiting yourself to a single model of a single toy line is small-minded. In fact, showing up in the shape of a Chucky-shaped doll seems to be about the worst choice.

Anyway, back to the film. There is a showdown, of course. At first it’s Nica vs. Chucky, then it’s Andy vs. Chucky, and, at all times, it’s Chucky vs. everybody. I won’t say how things end, but just so you know, there are already talks of an eighth film.

Cult of Chucky isn’t a bad film, but it doesn’t make much sense, even in the wacky rules established within the Child’s Play universe. The only reason Chucky would have for tracking down Nica would be to kill her, and then he doesn’t do it. Sure, he kills other people, which places the blame on Nica, but if he planned on killing everyone there, who cares who takes the blame?

Another part that doesn’t make sense is Chucky’s reaction to Dr. Foley, when he learns Dr. Foley has been molesting Nica during their weekly hypnosis therapy sessions. Charles Lee Ray (the soul inside Chucky) is a serial killer who has murdered multiple teenagers and young children throughout the franchise. It’s a stretch to think that hypnotic molestation (of a girl he plans to murder) is where Chucky would draw the line in the sand, but that’s the problem; he doesn’t draw a line in the sand. Instead, he cold cocks the doctor (twice) and tries to get Nica to kill the doctor. This means Chucky doesn’t really want the doctor dead (or he would have killed him), and doesn’t seem to condone the doctor’s actions either. The way the doctor is killed is even more confusing; Chucky, possessing Nica’s body, does it. This can’t be cathartic for Nica (who is now possessed with the soul of a serial killer), nor does it make sense that Chucky would do it now, when he had the chance twice before. It comes off as a writer who likes his own creation a little too much.

It’s ironic that the more Child’s Play movies you’ve seen the less this one makes sense, as the only possible audience for this direct-to-video seventh installment are those of us who grew up afraid of the red-headed killer doll. By giving Chucky the ability to transfer his soul into an unlimited amount of hosts at the same time, I’m afraid the Child’s Play series may have opened a Pandora-sized can of worms that they might not be able to logically write themselves out of.

Then again, while knives, guns, drills, and scalpels have always been Chucky’s thing, logic never has.

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