A young mother gives her son a high-tech doll for his birthday,
but the doll has a very different meaning of friendship.
Child's Play (2019)
Directed by Lars Klevberg
Written by Tyler Burton Smith
Starring Aubrey Plaza, Mark Hamill, Gabriel Bateman, Brian Tyree Henry, Tim Matheson, David Lewis, Beatrice Kitsos, Ty Consiglio
Remake of 1988's Child's Play
Oh, remakes, I love you (The Thing, Night of the Living Dead 1990) and I wonder why they even bothered (Dawn of the Dead 2004, yeah I said it, come at me!). Child's Play falls somewhere in the middle. I don't know, from an initial viewing, that I love it but I can also safely say I don't hate it. Is the circumstance surrounding Chucky's "creation" lacking the pizzazz of a last minute body swap by voodoo? You betcha. The opening scene where a disgruntled factory worker (the world's best hobo computer programmer) removes all of Buddi's safety features making it "evil" is a lazy plot device, even if it is more believable than putting your soul into the empty husk of a children's toy. This is somewhat corrected as it is explained via commercial that Buddi will learn everything about you to become your friend to the end.
Where this flick really got me was in the sequences with Karen (Plaza), Andy (Bateman), and Shane (Lewis). The shitty dude (who turns out to be even MORE of a shitbag later) who feels it's his place to parent Andy and bullying him is the most real this movie gets. This situation happens all too often and I felt like his death was satisfying and gory as hell, too. The build up to Chucky's rampage is slow and deliberate, like watching a baby learn to crawl before it becomes a killing machine. I feel like the abilities that Chucky had weren't fully explored although they were certainly on display during the murder of the creeper handyman. That fucker got what he deserved. He was spying on every woman in the building and met a grisly end for his transgressions.
The finale is bonkers but doesn't feel totally earned in that Chucky's desire to kill everyone that stands in the way of his friendship with Andy suggests he's got a personality, where did that come from? Standing on its own, Child's Play 2019 never fully reaches its potential for me though it does have moments of good gore that will make this enjoyable with friends.
I gotta admit, I did not have very high hopes for Child's Play, and my instincts turned out to be correct. This updated remake for a modern audience abandons everything that made the original Child's Play such a memorable cult favorite. The serial killer/voodoo angle is cut in favor of a "Siri gone bad" storyline that fails to inject Chucky with personality, his one defining attribute. And that's not a jab at Mark Hamill's performance, which is decent enough but doesn't hold a candle to Brad Dourif. This is a story problem plain and simple. And a design problem. I couldn't believe that Chucky looked more realistic and toy-like in the original.
The story is roughly the same as before, with Andy (Gabriel Bateman) getting a Buddi doll named Chucky from his mother (Aubrey Plaza). Only Chucky, unlike the rest of the toy line, has had its safety features removed by a disgruntled sweat shop worker (seriously, that's the jumping-off point), so it's learning on its own. And what it learns is that nothing can stand in the way of true friendship, so anything standing between Chucky and Andy has to die. The kills are grisly and inventive, but Chucky is missing his sarcastic wit and douchebag attitude that's made him a pop culture icon that's lasted over 30 years. It really hurts the movie, since he's the only reason people are interested in it.
I really wanted to be wrong about Child's Play, but the Hollywood machine ate up Don Mancini's horror classic and spat out this watered-down, millennial Chucky that's essentially Alexa with a butcher knife. None of the side characters get to shine like they have in the past, particularly Officer Mike Norris, leaving longtime fans disappointed and newcomers disinterested.