A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Cult of Chucky is a 2017 horror movie in which Chucky goes on a killing spree in a mental hospital. There is, unsurprisingly, a lot of horror violence and gore. Characters are stabbed, drilled, and cut to death; there's lots of blood, as well as a decapitation in one scene. A woman stabs a man to death in the face with a high-heeled shoe. Guns and rifles are shot at point-blank range at the heads of various Chucky dolls. In a flashback scene, a babysitter is shown falling several stories to her death. It's strongly implied that the head psychiatrist of the mental hospital has sexually violated one of his patients; he's shown drugging a wheelchair-bound woman with a syringe before kissing and groping her. A patient in the mental hospital is shown having what appears to be consensual sex with the wheelchair-bound woman (no nudity). Chucky smokes a cigarette like it's a joint. "F--k" is frequently used. One of Chucky's one-liners makes a joke about whether a woman with red hair is "a natural redhead." Gratuitous product placement: Characters directly reference Juicy Fruit gum and Hot Topic, and one of the characters is shown following Chucky's latest killing spree on PerezHilton.com. Overall, it's a mindless horror movie, entertaining enough for those with the low expectations that horror movie fans should have by this point when watching a sequel from a franchise that has stuck around for too long.
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What's the story?
In CULT OF CHUCKY, Nica Pierce (Fiona Dourif) has spent the last four years in a maximum-security mental institution, but she's being transferred to a new, medium-security mental institution after convincing herself and her doctors that she believes she was the one who murdered her family, and that her belief that Chucky (Brad Dourif) did it was a manifestation of her schizophrenia. Meanwhile, Andy Barclay -- now an adult but still scarred by his childhood confrontations with Chucky -- has kept the original Chucky doll's severed head in a safe. He takes it to Nica's doctor to convince the doctor that Chucky was indeed the killer and not Nica. As Nica enters group therapy with the other patients, the head doctor of the institution decides to try something new as a way for the patients to get in touch with their feelings: He brings out a "Good Guy" doll, a relic from the '80s and the very same brand of doll from which the Chucky killer doll sprung after a serial killer's spirit possessed it. Meanwhile, Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly) leaves a similar doll for Nica, a keepsake by which to remember her dead niece. Shortly after these dolls arrive in the mental hospital, patients start to die in a variety of gruesome ways, and Nica is the prime suspect. The head psychiatrist refuses to believe Nica's stories, and sees the situation as an opportunity to write a best-selling nonfiction book. As other Chucky dolls arrive and the killings continue, Andy must find a way to get into the mental hospital and stop the Chucky dolls, even as they have learned to use magic to possess not only other Chucky dolls, but humans as well.
Is it any good?
Not that anyone would expect the seventh horror movie of a nearly 30-year-old franchise to be all that great, but, unsurprisingly, it's a stale story. Viewers with low expectations and a penchant for mindless entertainment won't be disappointed. There's the obligatory bloody and gory killings, the fake scares of blaring horror movie music for when characters are startled by the sudden appearance of other characters, and a suspension of disbelief that feels weary rather than engaging. Even the story arc of Nica -- who had been a strong and resourceful wheelchair-bound woman and therefore an interesting break from the all-too-typical "scream queens" of horror movies -- takes a cheesy and somewhat lazy direction toward the end.
The seventh movie in any horror franchise is never good, and it's difficult to imagine anyone, even fans of the Child's Play and Chucky movies from the past, thinking they were in for a cinematic masterpiece with Cult of Chucky. And there is a self-awareness of this on the part of the filmmakers, a kind of Sharknado-esque embrace of the awful; for instance, a character played by Jennifer Tilly being told that she looks a lot like Jennifer Tilly. And Chucky just sounds like a foul-mouthed Danny DeVito by this point. The whole enterprise has worn out its welcome and if this movie is any indication, it's a good time to end the series.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about horror movies. What are the ways in which Cult of Chucky uses blood and gore to try to scare its audience? How does it use suspense? What is the appeal of horror movies?
This movie is part of a film franchise that has been around for nearly three decades now. Why do you think movie studios release so many sequels? Did this movie feel like a fresh spin on a familiar formula, or did it feel like the premise has long outworn its welcome?
How are the mentally ill portrayed in this movie? Are they treated with dignity and respect, or are they and their disorders seen as punchlines?
One of the lead characters is a disabled woman. How is this role conveyed, and how is a disabled woman a departure from the typical depictions of women in horror movies?
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