Child’s Play (2019) – 4 out of 5
I don’t dislike the character of Chucky but, I’ll be real here, I think the Child’s Play films are terrible. I just couldn’t find the character of Chucky scary and found the films more laughable than anything else. Once the franchise went the dark comedy route I was all in but, considering I didn’t think the character worked in straight horror, I was dubious of a remake of the film. Since I have no special connection to the original features (beyond loving Brad Dourif’s performance as the killer doll) I had no strong reaction to the decision to try the story again as a horror film but didn’t really have much of a drive to check it out. However, it’s October and that means I watch nothing but horror films so I decided to give this one a chance and it was surprisingly good!
|Hell yeah! Brian Tyree Henry is in the film! He's just awesome!|
Karen Barclay (Aubrey Plaza) is a single mother trying to raise her son Andy (Gabriel Bateman). Andy’s having some issues due to them moving to a new place with some understandable anxiety over his upcoming birthday, lacking friends and Karen’s new boyfriend Shane (David Lewis). At her retail job, a customer returns a defective product of the latest and hottest toy; a Buddi doll. This doll is the height of AI and is capable of integrating with other products from the company—including self-driving cars, televisions, thermostats and radios. After some difficulty getting the doll to start, the Buddi states his name is Chucky and quickly becomes attached to Andy. Chucky wants nothing more to do than to make Andy happy but after the doll starts to get violent Andy quickly gets rid of the toy. Feeling rejected, Chunky is out for revenge because if he can’t be friends with Andy, no one can.
|This movie provides a powerful lesson...play with LEGO bricks because they|
won't actively try to kill you.
For obvious reasons, you can’t have the same Child’s Play movie that came before; it had to be changed up. Instead of a serial killer using dark magic to possess a doll, this one obviously goes for the AI gone wrong direction. Sometimes this formula can be pretty groan-inducing because “technology is scary” is a thin premise that rarely is accompanied by anything of meaning with it (look at Black Mirror in its Netflix seasons—yeah, that’s right, I think that show is bad and lazily written). However, the story in this remake actually make the “AI gone bad” premise work because Chucky isn’t an all-out evil character, he’s just a broken and misunderstood one.
|Is it possible to watch a person sleep and not have it automatically be creepy?|
In the original film, Chucky saw Andy as a body to possess and that’s what caused the murderous conflict but in this one Chucky genuinely cares for Andy and wants to make him happy. The problem occurs as he doesn’t understand what’s right and wrong, is educated in antagonistic behavior and is, obviously, a malfunctioning robot. This new direction made Chucky, in my opinion, a threat that I never really felt from the original product but it also, shockingly, made him a touch sympathetic as we see Chucky try but get rebuffed due to his shortcomings. This is definitely one of my favorite elements of the film and something that made the feature unique and set it apart from the original film.
|Andy, your first mistake was trying to make friends. That never works out.|
The cast in this one is great. I loved Aubrey Plaza as shows she’s more than just a sassy comedy performer, Gabriel Bateman was fantastic as Andy and the film also has Brian Tyree Henry as a cop who thinks Chucky’s murders are probably being committed by Andy—and BTH is just awesome in everything he does. The highlight of the film, however, was definitely Mark Hamill as the voice of Chucky. Brad Dourif’s performance is fun AF so the shoes he occupied are tough to fill. Hamill, to his credit, isn’t trying to replicate Dourif but rather just brings an eerily friendly voice to the doll. Even when he gets all murder-y the tone of the voice doesn’t change and it made Chucky legit creepy.
|I feel like April Ludgate and Chucky would have gotten along quite well.|
Child’s Play was a remake that I went into with no real expectations and was pleasantly surprised with how entertaining it was. I loved the cast, I liked the direction the story went and the kills have that great slasher balance of being hard to watch but wickedly amusing. It hits all the right notes for what makes a slasher film fun and is definitely a great example of a remake that hits that right balance of taking the story in a new direction but not feeling like it is a completely different tale.