Child's Play - 2019
Director(s): Lars Klevberg
Writer(s): Tyler Burton Smith (screenplay) / Don Mancini (characters)
Cinematographer(s): Brendan Uegama
Editor(s): Tom Elkins and Julia Wong
Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Mark Hamill, Gabriel Bateman, Brian Tyree Henry, Tim Matheson, and David Lewis
Reboots and sequels have been the name of the game in 2019 - especially the summer as there is not a single weekend in the calendar that does not feature one coming-out. The main difference that separates this reboot from the rest is that the original series, with the creator (Mancini) and lead actor (Dourif), is still active with direct to video/streaming sequels that the fanbase love - they even have a tv-miniseries slated for this year. So, this one feels, well wrong that they are banking on an IP that has always had a lone voice/vision guiding it throughout - so after walking out of the film I cannot help to think "why?" as it was so different from the original that it could've been its own thing.
The story follows Karen Barclay (Plaza), a store clerk and a single mother trying to provide a happy life for her 13-year-old son, Andy (Bateman). Karen and Andy recently moved to a new town, and Andy is having trouble making new friends and adjusting to his new environment. Karen brings home a defective Buddi (Hamill), an AI toy powered by Kaslan a multinational corporation. Andy immediately takes to him and Buddi - now named Chucky - has imprinted himself on Andy, wanting to keep him happy and safe at all cost. Chucky starts to murder anyone that stands in the way of him and Andy, forcing Andy to take matters into his own hands.
I hate and love that this film is so different from the original. I love that the creative team took a different route and did not dare and try to capture the same lightning in the bottle Mancini captured three decades ago. I hate that it is an explicit use of an IP in hopes of drawing in the fair-weather fans, and horror fans to the seats based on the name recognition alone. When you boil it down, it is just an AI going haywire and killing people - it doesn't have the personal connection and inherent creepiness of a man inside a doll trying to kill a child. The doll has no personality, or free will making his actions random and ultimately boring despite the excessive gore.
The first two acts aren't horrible, as I found some entertainment in them - but once the third act comes around the wheels fall off, and the logic goes out the window. The sequence of events is laughable, and the ultimate resolution that takes place in the store was so dumb that it feels like nobody double checked the writers’ work before it went to production. The acting, for the most part, is fine, Bateman as Andy does get tiresome as he is relegated to crying and drooling for most of the runtime. I did enjoy Plaza, as she is practically doing April from Parks and Rec, but less "weird," and Brian Tyree Henry is severely underused.
Child's Play is a shell of what the original is, and it is barely an entry into the slasher horror genre. While the first two acts strive with the relationship of Plaza and Bateman, when the film tries to be a gorier and more modern version of the IP they stole from its creator, one loses interest and waits for the credits to roll. It feels like a complete miss fire like many of the recent horror reboots Hollywood as trotted out in the past few decades.
Child’s Play is a Streamer!
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