The Toronto After Dark Film Festival has been running for 12 solid years showing us everything from action to gore to straight up frights. This year’s festival features something unique: 3 sequels. The biggest of which is Cult of Chucky. It screens tonight (with two showings) and is the seventh film in this near 30 year old franchise. The movie is written and directed by Don Mancini who wrote the original screenplay for Child’s Play (1988). Returning are franchise veterans Fiona Dourif as Nica (Curse of Chucky), Alex Vincent as Andy (Child’s Play 1 & 2, Curse of Chucky), and of course, Brad Dourif as Chucky (all 6 previous films).
I remember back in 1988 wanting to see the original Child’s Play as I was just getting into horror in a big way and the idea of possessed killer doll sounded really cool. Mancini has said that the culturally iconic toy that was Cabbage Patch Dolls was an inspiration for Child’s Play. I wasn’t disappointed when I finally got to see it on video. It was a fun ride that was most 80’s horror movies: equal parts horror, shock and shlock. I watched the 2 Child’s Play sequels as well but stopped there until this movie. In 1988, the effects were pretty impressive for the era and made the doll seem real. 30 years later, effects have moved forward by leaps and bounds.
It’s interesting that they don’t take full advantage of modern CGI in this movie. Now hold on. Before you get ahead of yourself, that’s not a complaint at all. I actually really like that they kept in old style practical effects for the most part. It made the film a joy to watch compared to many of today’s modern glitter-fests we see in the multiplex.
That real world practicality works for the movie throughout. As does the amazing set design for the hospital that the majority of the film takes place in. It makes it feel completely different than the previous settings in the series. Gone are the dark apartments and houses of the past. Here, it is sterile and clean in every corner of the hospital… well until Chucky goes to work. Then it’s blood and carnage everywhere, making it a worthy sequel to the franchise. (So much so that I’m thinking of going back to watch what I missed over the years.)
The unrated version being shown at the festival is going to provide some additional bloody violent moments that are what make horror movies great. Even when the violence is over the top, it’s a great cathartic release for the viewer. However, if you are a person who has a phobia of killer dolls/toys, this might not be for you.
Playing before Cult of Chucky is the Canadian short film, Masks. It plays on the slasher film tropes to great effect using a theatre backstage as its setting. With an easily atmospheric look of dread, the short is a lot of fun. It knows its horror roots and how to best play in that yard.
If you want a film that celebrates horror and comedy in brutal ways, you will want to see Cult of Chucky. The film screens at Toronto After Dark 2017 on Friday, October 13th with two screenings at 9:15PM AND 11:59PM. Tickets are available at the Cineplex Website.
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