Ahlia Karam | 22/06/2019
Child’s Play brings Chucky into the 21st century with the 2019 adaptation of the original instalment.
Following the death of her husband, Karen Barclay (Aubrey Plaza) moves with her son Andy (Gabriel Bateman) to a new city for a fresh beginning. Andy is a lonely kid, struggling to make sense of all the changes. As an early birthday present Karen brings home a faulty Buddi doll that was returned to the toy store she works at. While at first the new toy brings the spark back into Andy’s eyes, he starts to suspect that his Buddi doll might not be quite right. As it turns out a disgruntled worker in the Vietnam sweatshop where this western luxury is made has removed some of the filters from this particular doll.
Andy’s new doll is hell bent on calling himself Chucky. Chucky and Andy go everywhere together; they’re best friends, friends to the end. Some of the neighbourhood kids start to notice Andy and his foul mouthed pal. Chucky becomes obsessed with doing anything he can to make his ‘best friend’ Andy happy. Chucky is a quick learner, easily mimicking behaviors he sees around him, especially those that make Andy smile. It becomes clear that Chucky takes some things too literally and that perhaps this doll has gained a mind of his own. Things start to become violent; like very violent, and obnoxiously gory. Andy and his new friends join together as rag tag team join to stop this faulty doll from hurting anyone else. With a bit of help from their cop neighbour, Mike (Brian Tyree Henry), they might just have a chance.
While the Chucky of the 1988 classic was possessed by the spirit of a notorious serial killer, our version has taken a more advanced turn. This Good Boy’s doll, a nod at the doll that originally influenced the character, can link up to every other electronic device in your home of the same brand. A playful reminder to our growing dependence on technology. But do we really need any more stories to show that connecting every aspect of our lives to technology can go horribly wrong?
Through this role Aubrey Plaza might be trying to break away from the angsty teen persona she is known, but quite frankly, it fell short. Her portrayal as a struggling mother wasn’t all that believable. This character comes off as a side step in her career. Meanwhile Gabriel Bateman seems to be finding his own niche is this horror scene. He conveys all of the panic and naive fear that is needed for this sort of character. The audience could have benefited from more development in his relationship with Brian Tyree Henry’s character, but nevertheless here we see a more mature role for Henry, and it will be interesting to see where he can jump from this.
The directorial and production team of Lars Klevberg, Seth Grahame-Smith and David Katzenberg take the risk of trying to reimagine a cult classic. In doing so, they have created a film that allows you to become somewhat invested in the characters, but never quite that fearful for them. Some characters you are even happy to see go, and some you’re left feeling like they really deserved more punishment. Child's Play plays well with the gruesome horror of a slasher film, but is hampered constantly but its indecisiveness around whether it wants to add psychology drama as well.
This reboot ticks the boxes on the gory and gruesome, and if you're happy to sit back and just let the story roll over you, you're in for an easy ride.
Moral of the story? Just go play outside kids - the new gadget isn’t worth it.