What, they’re still making these?
Oh, shit, this the seventh of these things – the latest instalment in the 29-year-old Child’s Play franchise, once again written and directed by Don Mancini, who by now has steered this bizarre string of films through so many genres and pop-culture trends that I honestly couldn’t say, before watching this one, what I was in for. Now, after having watched it, I still can’t say for certain exactly what it was. These films have been, at various points, generic slashers, satirical comedies, and psychological thrillers. Cult of Chucky is all of those things, and also some others. It’s a weird and violent little film which, depending on how it performs, is either going to be a swansong or a fresh start for horror’s most tenacious, indestructible franchise.
As I’ve noted before in this very series, the idea of alternate timelines and universes and all their attendant paradoxes is largely what has prohibited me from becoming what one might describe as a “fan” of comic books, which some would consider a rather egregious oversight given my line of work. When I reviewed Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, another direct-to-DVD feature courtesy of Warner Bros. and DC, which also concerned a superhero team who ventured into a mirrored dimension to battle their doppelgangers, I expressed concerns about the futility of the endeavour, which I still hold. That movie surprised me, though, and it must be said that this one, which is based on the 2011 comic book crossover event “Flashpoint”, by Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert, surprised me just as much, if not more so.
A couple of reasons. The first, rather obvious one is that a standalone feature-film is a very different proposition from a concerted effort to mangle and merge a dozen characters’ established continuities. In comic books, these events are permanent – until, that is, the next one happens, or the whole line is arbitrarily rebooted, though even then the ostensibly clean slate still contains the sticky residue of versions past. It’s a nightmare. Something like Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox has the distinct advantage of having no obligation to a broader continuity. You can enjoy its hypothetical rearranging of DC’s stalwarts secure in the knowledge that by the time the credits roll, none of it will have mattered.
The second reason is that, unwieldy title notwithstanding, it isn’t a movie about the Justice League.
If I said to you, “It’s a straight-to-VOD movie called Extraction”, what would you think? Don’t worry, I already know the answer. You’d think: I bet that’s a cynical low-budget action vehicle, probably one starring some young buck Hollywood would like me to believe is the Next Big Thing. And you’d be right. You might also think: Is that Bruce Willis on the poster? Why is he associating himself with yet another of these horrible movies? And you’d be justified. In this one he plays a legendary CIA agent who gets himself kidnapped by some thickly-accented European terrorists. The production company behind Extraction, Grindstone Entertainment Group, are the very same folks responsible for previous execrable late-career Willis duds like Vice, The Prince and Fire With Fire. He continues to work with them for reasons entirely unclear to me, so perhaps he has actually been kidnapped after all.