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Child’s Play – Movie Review

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Child’s Play – Movie Review

Rating: B- (Okay)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Elevation Pictures

Child’s Play took the concept of a serial killer doll and ran with it, creating a impressively tense horror film that most importantly gave us characters we didn’t want Chucky to do away with. Chucky has evolved a lot since that first film, so it’s interesting to see a filmmaker go back to square one and remake Child’s Play. Rather than a slavish recreation, director Lars Klevberg goes in a wildly different direction and that’s an admirable route to take. Outside of the basic premise of a young boy named Andy getting a doll who starts killing people off, this remake takes other paths with an emphasis on current technology. It’s not entirely successful, but Child’s Play at least knows what it is and has a bit of fun.

From the elaborate set-up, it’s already evident this Chucky will be a different one than the serial killer magically transferred to a doll’s body in the original. Having Chucky instead be a malfunctioning AI is a clever idea and gives the filmmakers the opportunity to comment on the rise of tech toys that serve our every whim. The movie is definitely on the nose about it, but it’s nonetheless an interesting angle to take. Brad Dourif will forever be connected to Chucky, but Mark Hamill more than proves adept at the role. His Chucky has more of a naivety as he tries his hardest to gain Andy’s affection and Hamill portrays the doll slowly but surely cracking.

There is a self-aware sense of humour running through Child’s Play and quite a bit of that comedy works. Aubrey Plaza brings her deadpan sensibilities to Andy’s mother, although she comes across more as a sister than a matriarch (something the film itself comments on). There are also characters like Plaza’s jerkish boyfriend, who is written to fill every cliché of that archetype and the movie knows this. While the original Child’s Play was framed like a murder mystery, the remake is more interested in exploring the theme of fitting in, shown through both Chucky and Andy. That gives enough of a motivation for those two central characters, even if it gets a bit lost underneath the anti-tech satire and blood and guts.

Klevberg goes especially over the top in the latter case. Chucky doesn’t merely stab his victims, we get all of the gory details and it can be a bit much. This is one of those horror movies that revels in cutting open people in elaborate ways, merely to up the ante and shock the audience. There is also too much of an emphasis on jump scares. You can almost count down every single jump scare that is about to occur, reducing the shock factor. It’s the rare page in the horror film playbook that Child’s Play does completely straight. Meanwhile, Chucky’s appearance falls into the uncanny valley. This might be intentional to give off a creepy AI vibe, but the Animatronic still falls short, especially compared to Kevin Yagher’s excellent puppetry on the original Chucky.

Remakes shouldn’t have to redo the original film beat-for-beat, so it’s good the filmmakers behind Child’s Play decided to put their own spin on the cult horror film. It’s almost necessary, due to the countless sequels that have come after Tom Holland’s movie. While certainly flawed, those looking for cheap entertainment will probably get that here. The humour does work more often than not, although the kills are more icky and gruesome than suspenseful and frightening. Child’s Play is an admirable effort to create a different take on a property that has impressively lasted for several years. Hardcore fans shouldn’t view this as an insult to Don Mancini’s long-running series. Instead, it’s just one director putting his own stamp and having fun with the concept.

Stefan Ellison

Stefan Ellison