Movie Review: ‘Child’s Play’ (2019)

Director: Lars Klevberg

Cast: Mark Hamill, Aubrey Plaza, Gabriel Bateman, Brian Tyree Henry

Plot: A single mother brings her young teen son a refurbished ‘Buddi’ doll, a high-tech smart toy that’s in very high demand. Unfortunately this particular doll won’t let anyone come between him and his new best friend.

Review: It’s hard to get excited for the latest remake of an 80s iconic horror film. We’ve had Freddy, Jason, Michael, Leatherface…Chucky feels like he’s getting revisited simply because he hasn’t been done yet. We already have a reboot of the original series on streaming video, so we’re not sure what purpose this new Child’s Play can serve.

It’s pretty good though. For real, they brought in some new ideas and delivered on the gore.

Surprisingly this is quite a departure from the original Chucky. For those unfamiliar, ‘Chucky’ is a Good Guy doll that has been possessed by serial killer Charles Lee Ray though voodoo. There’s no supernatural aspect to this new incarnation, however, with Chucky being the result of a disgruntled sweatshop worker. At the beginning of the film we see said worker being verbally and physically abused by his supervisor before being fired. In retaliation the worker turns off the safety restrictions on the doll he was working on. Yes, that’s right…

…someone set this doll to evil!

This isn’t all that has changed about Chucky (voiced by Hamill). The prologue also establishes that Chucky is a ‘Buddi’ doll, new smart tech that connects wirelessly to your home appliances, cars and phones. When functioning correctly he should function as an AI assistant as much as a child’s companion. Rather than possessing an adult’s intelligence along with a deep, growling voice, our new Chucky only has his doll’s voice and an almost innocence nativity, with his homicidal tendencies coming from the behaviour and media he gets exposed to. For much of the film Chucky is just confused and protective…right up until he starts skinning people. He’s also got a damn creepy looking face. OG Chucky looked like a Cabbage Patch Doll, a massively popular product, but I can’t imagine anyone voluntarily bringing one of these new ones into their home. He’s got a creepy face.

The story begins proper with Karen (Plaza), the mother of Andy (Bateman), a young teen with a hearing aid. I really like both of these characters and the relationship between them. They’re both dissatisfied with their lot in live but do their best to make each other happy. Karen struggles with knowing how to handle her responsibilities at a young age while Andy is unimpressed with his mother’s current choice of suitor. It’s nice to see a realistic and likeable little family unit to frame the story around.

When Karen get’s the chance to nab a returned Buddi doll at work she brings it home to Andy. At first Andy is unimpressed but the impressive technology brings him around, with Chucky’s usually restricted bad language and behaviour making him a hit with Andy’s friends. As Chucky gets exposed to violent media and Andy’s frustrations at the people around him an overwhelming desire to make Andy happy drives Chucky towards perpetrating horrifying attacks on people in the neighbourhood.

Speaking of the kills, these are among the most gruesome and creative we’ve seen in the series. If you’re a fan of slashers and, to a degree, the Saw films you’ll enjoy the bloody mayhem this movie delivers. We did expect the smart-tech of the new Chucky to play a bigger role, but this only comes into play a few times and only in limited ways.

Although most of the individual elements of the movie are solid they don’t always gel together. We got the distinct impression that the script was worked and reworked many times, with the writer’s struggling to come up with reasons to bring the characters together at the right time. Some of the bubbling around Andy trying to cover up for Chucky’s crimes is more than a little contrived. The story stumbles here and there before getting to the big finale, which sets up high potential for carnage but it seems to hold itself back. There’s also one of Andy’s friends, Pug. He’s super annoying.

Overall this is a damn fun movie for slasher fans. They have done something new with the concept, making it a rare case of a remake serving a purpose rather than acting as a cash-in. We’ve got plenty of cool looking horror coming out this year, so try not to let this one get lost in the shuffle.

Rating: SEVEN out of TEN