“Child’s Play” stars Aubrey Plaza, Gabriel Bateman, Brian Tyree Henry, Mark Hamill, and Tim Matheson. Released on June 21, 2019, the film is about a mother and her son who discover the evil nature that lies within a toy doll.
The film is directed by Lars Klevberg, and it is a remake of the 1988 film of the same name. Now that I got one toy-related film out of the way, let’s look at another film that involves a toy coming to life, shall we? It’s actually quite funny that we got not one, but two toy-related films this weekend. The only difference between the two is that this one has a toy that isn’t as child-friendly as a cowboy doll. The original “Child’s Play” film was a hit for fans of the slasher genre when it was released more than 30 years ago, spawning a franchise that includes sequels, comic books, merchandise, and a television series that’s set to come out next year. I only managed to watch the original film on Amazon Prime a while ago, and I can definitely see why it was so beloved by horror fans. The film’s creepy vibe was well-executed and its practical effects (mostly the animatronics) were really impressive. It’s a terrifying experience that proves that some toys are just as deadly as masked killers. Of course, whenever a horror franchise becomes popular, Hollywood always finds a way to reintroduce it to its modern audience via a remake, and unsurprisingly, “Child’s Play” marks another addition to that list. This seems like a pretty bizarre move by Hollywood, especially since franchise creator, Don Mancini, is still working on more installments in his original “Child’s Play” film series. Plus, he and the original cast and crew didn’t want to be involved with the remake. This could’ve been another recipe for disaster. However, like Chucky himself, this is something that shouldn’t be judged based on its appearance.
Similar to the 1988 film, the story in “Child’s Play” involves a toy doll becoming a psychopath and a young boy (played by Bateman in the remake) trying to stop it. The film made a few changes in order to prevent itself from being a straight-up copy of the original, like Chucky for example. Instead of being a doll that is possessed by the spirit of a serial killer, the remake decided to make Chucky into a miniaturized version of Ultron. A high-tech doll that rejects its programming and has a thirst for violence. The first “Child’s Play” film has been known for relying on storytelling, tension and scares to creep out its audience rather than having an overabundance of blood and gore appear onscreen every few minutes. People were very concerned about this remake because they’re worried that it might tarnish the franchise’s reputation by focusing on the latter to scare the moviegoers. After viewing it for myself, I’m surprised to say that’s not the case. Under the direction of Klevberg, “Child’s Play” resembled the qualities that made the original what it is while also giving it a modern upgrade that represents people’s personal fear of technology taking over the world. While the final result was far from perfect, it’s still an entertaining and creepy reimagining of the slasher classic. The reason why it’s imperfect was the story. The filmmakers did their part in making sure the plot and the characters were just as important as the kills, although I would like for them to expand the film’s aspect of friendship a bit more in the midst of its basic slasher formula. The film also liked to throw in a few comedic moments to lighten up its haunting tone. This strategy might not work for some people, but I didn’t mind them since they made me laugh. Other than that, the plot was bearable enough to be just as enjoyable as Chucky’s murderous rampage. The main cast delivered some pretty solid performances, ranging from Plaza as Andy’s mother to Brian Tyree Henry as Detective Mike Norris. I still think that Plaza was an odd choice to star in something like this since she has been known for starring in comedies, but she had enough tolerable moments to make it work for me. Gabriel Bateman also did a decent job with his performance as Andy Barclay, a hearing-impaired teen who felt uneasy when he and his mother moved into a new apartment. But the real star of the show was none other than Mark Hamill as the voice of Chucky. While it’s easy to admit that Brad Dourif is the definitive Chucky, I can’t ignore the fact that the filmmakers made an excellent casting choice. Hamill made Chucky his own character without copying the acting chops of Dourif, and the result is exactly how I imagined it: creepy, yet satisfying. Speaking of which, has anyone ever mentioned the design of the new Chucky doll? If not, then let me be the first to say that his facial design is downright terrifying. I’m not saying it as a flaw or anything. This is just from my own point of view. Seriously, whoever thought his face is appropriate for kids deserves to get the boot. Anyway, like the original, the film utilized animatronics to bring Chucky to life, which is something that pleases me the most. It did use some CGI during a couple of moments, but it didn’t overuse them to the point where it becomes less and less scary. Now for the tough part. Was it able to scare me? If you count Chucky’s unsettling face, the jump scares, and his kills, I’m going with a “yes”. The jump scares were quite effective during a few scenes that involve Chucky appearing completely out of nowhere. In case you’re wondering, I did scream a couple of times whenever Chucky surprised me. That’s how I know that they did a solid job at crafting those scares.
Overall, “Child’s Play” turns playtime into “slaytime” by honoring the spirit of the original and by crafting a frightening, yet entertaining, slasher film that relies on both scares and substance. It does follow the basic formula that we’ve seen from the other slasher films, including the 1988 classic, but for the sake of the fans, it’s probably for the best. The cast was decent in their roles, Mark Hamill was great as Chucky, and the scares were actually fun to witness. It’s a horror remake that surprisingly doesn’t suck compared to the other ones. If you enjoyed the other “Child’s Play” installments, especially the original, I would say give this one a chance. Walk into it with low expectations and you should be fine.