In the coming days, weeks, months and years, people are going to try and tell you that you either have to like the original 1988 Child’s Play or the 2019 reboot of Child’s Play, and that there’s no room for any other kind of feelings on either film whatsoever.
Screw that. Watch me like both movies. I don’t even care.
Child’s Play is a new slasher film remaking the iconic killer doll movie from Don Mancini, Tom Holland and the voice of Brad Dourif. The film went on to spawn six sequels (all of which I recently ranked in a list you can see by clicking here), with the most recent — Cult of Chucky — having been released only two years ago.
The Hollywood powers at be, however, decided to abandon that ongoing franchise and reboot the property with Polaroid director Lars Klevberg and first-time feature-film writer Tyler Burton Smith taking the helm, instead.
Interesting choices. Very, very interesting choices.
Chucky might not be exactly how you remember him in this new Child’s Play. This time around, there’s no voodoo curse, there’s no ‘hide the soul’ and there’s definitely no Glen/Greta or whatever his child decided to be called.
No, Chucky has now been brought into the 21st century as the each Good Guy Doll — which are now called ‘Buddi’ — comes equipped with technological capabilities. Think of the recent Miley Cyrus episode in the new season of Black Mirror in that these dolls can both control your household devices as well as carry on a conversation with you and, essentially, be your friend.
What could possibly go wrong with that idea?
Well, in reasons that I’m not going to spell out for you, one of these Buddi Dolls becomes infected with a sort of virus, shall we say? A virus that’s capable of doing a great many terrible, evil and horrible things. That virus that is, of course, Chucky (voiced by Mark Hamill).
Karen Barclay (Aubrey Plaza) knows nothing of this virus when she stumbles upon what she assumes to be a broken down Buddi. No, she sees the doll and instantly thinks it would be a great birthday present for her son, Andy (Gabriel Bateman), as these things are apparently all the rage.
And, at first, Andy thinks so, too. Given that he and his mom just moved into a new, pretty broken down apartment and that he doesn’t really know any other kids who live in the neighborhood, Chucky comes as a welcome new friend who gives him someone to talk to.
Someone to talk to and, eventually, be very afraid of, that is. It’ll surprise nobody to learn that Chucky isn’t the cute, cuddly toy everyone seems to think he is (even though the Buddi Dolls are so ugly looking, like wtf is wrong with these people) — he’s something much worse.
As I’ve already mentioned, this new Child’s Play was in a tough spot from the day its creation was announced. Whenever any ‘80s or ‘90s horror reboot gets announced, people typically have all kinds of trepidation — and rightfully so, as the Nightmare on Elm Street, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Black Christmas and so many other remakes were all varying degrees of bad. Throw on the fact that the Mancini Child’s Play franchise was alive and well, and you really can’t blame people for being angry — or at least, being cautious — about starting from scratch.
That being said, it happened. Child’s Play has a new canon and it’s not the end of the world. And once you accept the fact, this new Child’s Play can really be a whole lot of fun.
The thing I really appreciate about this new Child’s Play is how different from the original film it really is. While it keeps the same funny, gory tone (the blood and the humor both worked for me), they are blazing their own trail by telling a completely different story this time around.
Now, you might read the synopsis of this new trail and think it’s a dumb one — I know I did when I first heard the announcement that Chucky was being turned into a smartphone app. Yet, when you take a step back, that’s really no less dumb than the whole voodoo thing (probably less dumb, if we’re being honest) — and this time, they actually try it make it work.
I’m obviously not going to spoil what goes down in Child’s Play, but they’ve got some really unique, fun and ridiculous (in a good way) ideas of how to sell that premise. They’ve also got some other unexpectedly rich themes about friendship — and more specifically, toxic friendship and how dangerous that can be — thrown into there, too, which was a welcome addition.
The cast helps a lot of that go down smoothly, as well. We all know, at this point, that Mark Hamill is somewhat of a legend when it comes to voiceover. Whether he’s the Joker, doing something in the Star Wars universe or literally anything else, he’s constantly changing and bringing more awareness to voice actors. Here, he’s done it once again in all the best ways. There’s no use comparing him to Dourif because, again, these are very different movies, but I both greatly appreciate what each of them were able to do for their own versions of the characters.
Bateman and the Stranger Things group of friends he assembles by act three also worked for me, as did If Beale Street Could Talk’s Brian Tyree Henry, who plays a detective that lives next door to the Barclays. In fact, if I have any complaint about Henry when it comes to this movie, it’s that I wish he had been in more of it.
The one person — and this breaks my heart a little to say — that doesn’t work is Aubrey Plaza. Now, I love Aubrey Plaza. April Ludgate might just be my spirit animal. April Ludgate, however, is not how I envision the character of Andy’s mother to be, and that’s pretty much how Plaza is playing the role. I’m not sure if that was an intentional decision by Plaza (she can be quite good in more serious stuff, as seen in Ingrid Goes West) or if it’s the script’s fault, but whatever is happening, it doesn’t work.
The film I keep coming back to when thinking of this new Child’s Play is the 2013 Evil Dead. Both of them are really cool horror films that should have been original properties instead of leaning on existing franchises. Both of them, I think, would have been loved by nearly everyone had they decided to do so.
They didn’t do so, though, meaning they’re instead going to be forever compared to the film’s they’re rebooting. I wish that wasn’t the case and that this Child’s Play was an entirely different haunted doll movie, but oh well. You get what you get.
So, unfortunately, we don’t live in a world where we’ll continue getting sequels to Mancini’s Child’s Play and Klevberg’s Child’s Play. Yet, I refuse to believe that means you aren’t allowed to like both films, even if you have to acknowledge that one probably wouldn’t exist without the other. I like the original Child’s Play and a number of the sequels that followed. I like this Child’s Play, and I hope this thing goes on to have sequels that follow that I also like.
Watch the trailer for Child’s Play here and then let us know, in the comments below, what you thought of the film!
'Child's Play' - Sorry Dourif, Mark Hamill is our new buddi8