31 Days of Hell: Cult of Chucky

Child's Play is not only considered to be a cult classic, it and its seemingly endless line of sequels are always popular viewing selections during the Halloween season. This year, Don Mancini, the creative madman behind the franchise returns with his third directorial effort, Cult of Chucky. One of the better additions the series, Mancini continues to carve out a bloody universe for his infamous killer doll and in this offering doubles down on the fan service by featuring the returns of several prominent characters from previous entries.

Nica has been imprisoned for multiple homicides that she initially attributed to Chucky. Rigorous therapy treatments lead her to believe that she was in fact the killer and as a result of her progress, she is moved to a lower security hospital where true darkness awaits. Mancini's world of plastic killers and childlike wonder has always had a frustratingly complex relationship with the audience. Initially, the series was about a Voodoo ritual used by a serial murderer to extend his life, pitting his Good Guy Doll incarnation against protagonist Andy Barclay. Eventually, the series transformed from quasi serious slasher flicks to over the top horror comedy. With this film, Mancini tones both elements down, but never forgets their importance. There are eye rolling lines of dialogue and inventively violent kills, however the story is unique and the central cast all work remarkably well with what they're given.

Legendary character actor Brad Dourif once again returns to voice Chucky. There are copious amounts of supporting characters, many of which are from previous films that require the viewer to have screened each entry, or at the least, made use of the internet to catch up. Dourif's Daughter, Fiona stars as Nica, reprising her role from Curse of Chucky. Her early scenes are impressive, demonstrating a clear understanding of the delicate balance of horror and camp that is essential to the film’s success.

Michael Marshall's cinematography is one of the more notable aspects. The bulk of the narrative involves a mental hospital, and Marshall's compositions work perfectly, keeping the sterile interiors one step shy of a soap opera set, perfectly capturing Mancini's haunted madhouse of obtuse angels and torturous devices. There are some interesting choices with respect to set design and art direction that coalesce into an almost alien environment, keeping a distinctly dream like feeling alive throughout.

Available now on Netflix, there are two versions of Cult of Chucky. The R rated version is what is currently on Netflix. There is an unrated version that can be rented on demand, which features some additional footage and an after credits stinger. While there's the expected amount of ridiculousness one would expect in the seventh film of series about a psychopathic doll, Cult of Chucky also achieves a fun combination of morbid humor and unusual violence. This is accomplished by breaking some already flimsy rules in the films' mythology and by giving fans of the product exactly what they want, so much so that an eighth film is all but guaranteed.

-- Kyle Jonathan