**/**** Image A Sound A Extras B
starring Fiona Dourif, Adam Hurtig, Alex Vincent, Brad Dourif
written and directed by Don Mancini
by Bill Chambers It's not uncommon for a long-running horror series to embroider an increasingly convoluted mythology over time, as the kind of premise that launches horror icons also tends to be too primal to sustain a franchise. That's why Michael Myers became part of the Thorn cult and Freddy Krueger sired offspring while his own backstory continued to blossom. The Chucky saga, the story of a bloodthirsty Cabbage Patch Kid run amok, is no exception, but it's utterly unique in how the style of these films has pivoted, to use a buzzword, with the evolving narrative. What began as a mostly straight-faced slasher trilogy with a different identity altogether--these were Child's Play movies--was continued seven years later as a tongue-in-cheek ode to monster mash-ups with 1998's Bride of Chucky. Post-modernism then entered the picture and the comedy was pushed to the nth in Chucky creator Don Mancini's directorial debut Seed of Chucky, which seemed to exceed the threshold for camp shared by both the franchise and its fans. Another seven years passed (incidentally, the mythical length of time it takes for the human body to shed its skin) before Mancini's Curse of Chucky resurrected the title character, this time as the cursed object in an old-dark-house chiller. Now Cult of Chucky sees Mancini retrofitting his Mickey Mouse once again for a Bad Dreams-style psycho-ward thriller. Say what you will about Mancini being a maker of Chucky movies almost exclusively (he's the rare auteur to initiate, then stay with, a horror franchise), but within these limited parameters he's had an opportunity to show more range than most genre filmmakers.