UNITED ARTISTS RELEASING (2019)
Directors: Lars Klevberg
Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Gabriel Bateman, Brian Tyree Henry, Mark Hamill
Oh, Child’s Play. The saga that drowned in its own awfulness and pure straight to DVD vibes years ago. Well, it’s back in this modern reimagining – don’t worry, Chucky and Andy are still here but there’s no Brad Dourif or Alex Vincent in the roles. What would be the point? Similarly, series creator Don Mancini is out, instead he's working on his Child’s Play TV series which will hopefully improve on his movie series. So another reboot is upon us and the major question is – was it worth the hassle of reviving this decades-old franchise?
Actually, yes. Lars Klevberg does a smart job with bringing the franchise and, especially, Chucky into the modern world. Gone are the serial killer voodoo possessions and instead, we have an interactive Buddi doll that’s had its CPU hacked by a disgruntled worker and one that, via the Cloud and the internet, reacts to its surroundings. You see, this Chucky isn’t created evil, he simply assimilates with those around him, recording everything said and monitoring all actions and emotions. It’s a fun, slightly more grounded take on the creepy doll idea - and the visual/animation/movement is done very well. However, fear not, Chucky still gets to cause some havoc, especially as the movie thunders on. Voicing the iconic doll now is Mark Hamill, the Jedi Joker himself, and his sympathetic and creepy take is just right for the doll – just listening to him singing – and actually allows the audience to momentarily sympathise with the murderous little guy. Young Gabriel Bateman is solid as Andy Barclay, growing more confident within the role as the movie goes on and Brian Tyree Henry is fun as the (now) likable Detective Norris. Aubrey Plaza, so good in Ingrid Goes West a few years back, is fully committed to her role as Karen and gives another good performance and has nice chemistry with Bateman. The only downer character was David Lewis’ Shane, Karen’s abusive boyfriend, who felt far too cardboard and ‘overly bad’ compared to the more authentic human characters.
Despite its modern roots, Child’s Play manages to retain a throwback feel (partly due to Lewis’ awful character) whenever the technology is off-screen. The grimy aesthetic remains and, maybe it’s the nostalgia, but the 80s atmosphere still hovers over the movie, though just in the background. Child’s Play also has a decent amount of humour throughout, dark humour, but still, there are a few moments of genuine laughs. Unfortunately, the humour comes at the expense of horror. The movie is lacking any real horror. There’s gore and kills aplenty, but it’s never really SCARY which is a shame, a more straightforward horror may have worked better as a starting point, however, there’s just enough here to satisfy the death hounds. The final showdown goes slightly too far and the trailer gave away some of the major moments which is always frustrating – studios, please stop highlighting big moments from the third act of movies! The final showdown also hints at clever ways for the murderdoll to return - which should come as no surprise to anyone.
It’s hard to say whether fans of the franchise will enjoy this because the saga is so bad and well-worn that anything new and Chucky-related should really be seen as a step-up. Casual horror fans will enjoy this and I found myself having quite a lot of fun throughout, even if it wasn’t quite as scary or dark as I had imagined it could be - but the contemporary take on Chucky was very good. It’s certainly not perfect, but Child’s Play is a decent reboot that may lack scares but is big on fun (yes, fun).
June 25th 2019