Seven films into a series that most never would have predicted to succeed in the first place, the Child’s Play franchise has reached rarified air with Cult Of Chucky. This high quality sequel does more to renew interest in the foul-mouthed murder shenanigans of the Good Guy doll known as Chucky than at least the two films that came before it. The reason for this lies entirely in the story, which challenges franchise diehards by introducing a number of new ideas that completely changes the way we think about the spirit of Charles Lee Ray.

Cult Of Chucky could be considered something of a reverse Avengers for the Child’s Play franchise. Alex Vincent, who famously played Andy in the first film, returns to the series alongside Curse Of Chucky star Fiona Dourif. The characters they embody have continued to struggle through everyday life since Chucky turned their worlds upside down, but only Andy has managed to keep himself out of a mental hospital. Dourif’s Nica, on the other hand, has seemingly spent every moment of her life since the last film’s final scene being watched by doctors and law enforcement who largely believe she is the one responsible for the grisly deaths of her family. She has even started to believe it herself, as that explanation makes much more sense than an evil doll who kills people.

At the top of Cult we watch as Nica is transferred to a new psychiatric hospital located far from the rest of civilization. There she is introduced to a small group of patients, each with their own mental troubles, as well as a new form of group therapy that utilizes Good Guy dolls to help people understand that Chucky is not real. This may help to convince the others, but Nica is not so sure. She is the only one who seen what Chucky is capable of first hand, and she is not yet ready to believe such horrific visions were the product of her imagination.

Andy, meanwhile, is busy living as far off the grid as possible in a remote cabin where his only friend is the grotesque talking head of Chucky. This is the same Chucky from Cult, only now his body has been replaced by a board that his head is chained to several times over. The doll looks dead, but it’s not, and every night he hurls insults at Andy as he grapples with the fact he cannot live a normal life.

Understanding where a movie like this goes from here is fairly simple. At one point not long after the stories of Andy and Nica are established people begin dying in mysterious ways. The other patients at the hospital believe Nica may be behind the crimes, but she knows it’s actually Chucky. Alex knows this to be true as well, but considering the fact he has the head of Chucky securely stored in a safe at his home the logistics of the murders do not add up. There has to be a reasonable explanation, or so Andy and Nica believe, but the truth is actually far crazier than you might think.

There is also an appearance form series regular Jennifer Tilly, who has appeared as multiple characters throughout the franchise, including herself (in Seed Of Chucky). Her character this time around is Tiffany Valentine, a woman entrusted to look after Nica’s niece following the events of the last film. Nica asks Valentine if she’s ever been told she looks like Jennifer Tilly, and she responds by saying “Yea, I get that a lot.”

To spoil what franchise creator Don Mancini has created any further would be to do a huge disservice to fans of horror. Cult Of Chucky takes huge narrative risks in order to create confusion amongst viewers. People know what to expect with the Child’s Play franchise, namely a lot of death and dark humor. Those elements are present throughout this film, but there is another mysterious component at play that completely changes the course of any Chucky story that might follow this entry. It’s an elaborate and arguably insane idea, but in the context of this universe – not to mention modern horror in general – it’s among the most groundbreaking approaches to franchise expansion in recent memory.

Cult Of Chucky does the impossible by making us look at a character some have known for thirty years in an entirely new light. Anything is possible from this point forward and I, for one, cannot wait to see what happens next. Be sure to watch the post-credits scene to understand what might happen next time the spirit of the Lakeside Strangler decides to wreak havoc on the unsuspecting world.