Child’s Play (2019) Review

You just can’t keep a Good Guy down!

From Lars Klevberg, director of Polaroid (2019), comes the highly anticipated (to say nothing of contested) remake of the 1988 horror classic. The original film is regarded as a staple of the slasher genre, introducing the puntastically perilous killer doll Chucky. Chucky, as a character has elicited screams and groans from his audience, in a franchise that has proven its staying power for over thirty years. But what is so intriguing is that Chucky creator Don Mancini has maintained creative control of the Child’s Play franchise for those three decades. Working closely with four separate directors, he has always endeavoured to ensure a measure of fidelity to his original concept.

Now, Chucky is back and without Mancini…

Fans have expressed outrage, and indifference, to a remake. Christine Elise, former star of Child’s Play 2 (1990) called studio MGM’s decision to move forward with a remake “douchey”. But in an era where horror remakes are now not only popular, but common, the only real question that matters is; how well does it hold up?

But before we can answer that question, let’s take a look at the plot…

Andy Barclay, now a hearing impaired tween, is given a Buddi doll by his mother Karen (played by Aubrey Plaza) a fully autonomous, interactive best friend who is sure to never, ever leave you. Chucky (played by Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill) is just your average adorable walking, talking bit of nightmare fuel that quickly begins exhibiting signs of malfunction that just so happens to result in mass murder.
Now it’s up to Andy to save his mother, stop a killer doll and recuperate some dignity for this franchise.
And you know what? It actually did rather well.

This movie may not be a masterpiece, but then again the original Child’s Play is hardly what you would call great cinema. The original film is an inventive little showcase of make-up artist and animatronics expert Kevin Yeager’s special effects prowess. Not to mention Fright Night director, Tom Holland injecting much the same silly fun as his previous horror outing. The remake not only follows suit, but is, perhaps, a little more adventurous with its scenarios. There are an assortment of inventive kills to entice the gore hounds reading, including scenes of a man being scalped by a lawnmower and dismemberment via table-saw.

But shining through it all is Hamill as Chucky. Now that he is no longer a serial killer supernaturally possessing a doll, but rather a killer AI, there is a noticeable shift in the dynamic between himself and Andy. The remake presents to its audience, not a malevolent plaything from the offset, but rather an innocent figure who is driven to violence by impressionable kids. This also taps into the subtext of the film, whereas in the original film the subtext was the evils of consumerism, in the remake that subtext is more developed. Not only do we find the evils of consumerism, but the evils of consuming commodified electronics equipment, especially when the total potential of that product cannot be fully known. Creating some obvious parallels with Apple, turning Chucky into, what is basically a killer iDoll taps into fears about the over saturation of electronic devices and their effect on disenfranchised, millennial youth.

I may be reading a little too much into it, but then, that is what any decent horror flick should do; make you think about the things that scare you.

As for Hamill’s performance, unlike Brad Dourif’s manic Chucky, Hamill’s Chucky is a softly spoken companion with a chilling sweetness that adds a measure of uncertainty to every scene the doll is in. In fact, that kindly demeanour is maintained throughout the film, even when brutally stabbing a man to death, Chucky remains as inoffensively charming and sickeningly nice as he ever was.

Overall, this is a movie you should definitely check out. With an excellent sense of comedic timing, strong gore, good colours and inventive set pieces, Child’s Play is a decent little thriller that certainly injects some fresh ideas (if nothing else) into the franchise.

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