Full disclosure, I haven’t seen the original Child’s Play movies. On the upside I have no expectations or preconceptions coming into this reboot of Child’s Play either.
I was vaguely aware of the character growing up and it seemed like a standard slasher franchise like Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm St. Likewise when reboots of the those franchises both failed, a 2009 reboot of Child’s Play was also cancelled.
So when the most recent reboot of the series came along it wasn’t one I was really anticipating to be anything more than a standard reboot.
What I got was actually pretty surprising.
Gabriel Bateman (Lights Out) as Andy Barclay, fills the role of the main character pretty well and sells the premise of having an out of control murder doll
Mark Hamill (Star Wars) as the voice of Chucky, a once-harmless Buddi doll that due to a worker having a bad day goes out without any safeguards against killing people.
Aubrey Plaza (Legion) as Karen Barclay gives the strongest performance as a quirky single mother and she gives a lot of a pluck and genuine charm.
Brian Tyree Henry (Widows) as Detective Mike, a detective who lives down the hall and befriends Andy, he starts to suspect something is up when people Andy knows start dying.
Ty Consiglio (Wonder) as Pugg, The Goonies Chunk of this film who makes friends with Andy thanks to Chucky’s foul language.
Beatrice Kitsos as Falyn, a package deal with Pug who backs Andy up when things start to get way out of hand.
David Lewis as Shane, Karen’s dickish boyfriend basically he drinks beer and is a dick, that’s all.
Carlease Burke as Doreen Norris, Norris’ mother who lives down the hall has one of the best laughs in the movie.
There are some very interesting themes peppered through the script. Some of it is a bit under / overcooked but the over all structure is pretty straight forward.
Hardworking and quirky single mum Karen (Plaza) with her moody son who isn’t over the loss of his father has trouble making friends. Until his mother gets him one. Things predictably ramp up and go off the rails from there.
The real surprises Child’s Play offers are in it’s script and tone delivering some satisfying moments of gore and hilarity.
There are some themes that exist in the script that seem to not really serve any purpose you expect them to go further but they never quite get there.
It does a lot of ground work characterizing the victims early on to be bad people who you are obviously meant to be hoping get their gruesome end. But then it takes a turn when someone that didn’t “deserve it” gets killed. If everyone is fair game why not go there from the beginning or not have them so obviously clear cut as creeps.
Andy, the main character, is deaf or at least hearing impaired but this never seems to play into his character at any point other than a plot convenience. It may seem like a nitpick but why even have this as a plot point for the character. Its not A Quiet Place or anything.
Fans of the previous Child’s Play series might have a problem changes from a supernatural reason for Chucky than the updated version being A.I. based.
The Good Stuff
Child’s Play managed to do the messed up A.I. going off the rails in a more convincing way that other movies that use it as a major plot point. Chucky being the result of a disgruntled, overworked and abused (totally NOT Foxcon) worker was a nice origin.
Also Chucky isn’t just bonkers evil out of the box either. He learns from observing without context. Chucky sees the kids watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and laughing so thinks violence is ok. He listens to an angry kid and tries to do something about it.
When you consider the combined trolling of the internet turned the AI, Tay, into a hate spewing genocidal terminator before technicians disconnected her, yeah we are the real monsters…
Andy getting made an unwilling accomplice was done in such a way that made sense for the character and you get the motivation there.
The tone, humor and gore are very well balanced that sell this as a horror comedy perfectly. The kids channel the Gremlins / Critters tone. It gets the 80’s golden age of horror comedy and keeps it fresh at the same time.
Chucky being an animatronic puppet when they could have gone full CG was also a good choice Chucky being a physical threat rather than people screaming at a pingpong ball.
Child’s play was a satisfying call back to classic 80’s horror in a contemporary shell.
The comedy and horror are about as well balanced as a movie about a killer doll can be.
You’ll like it if you enjoy:
Horror Comedy done right.
80’s Horror movies.
A fresh take on an old classic.
Skip it if you:
Aren’t keen on gore.
Are looking for something less “horror lite”.
Can’t stand your favorite franchise being rebooted.
In cinemas June 20