child's play
Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

Killer Doll Chucky Returns For The Smart Phone Generation.

Antagonistic and villainous doll, Chucky, receives an update for the 21st-century in Child’s Play from United Artists Releasing. Director Lars Klevberg and scriptwriter Tyler Burton Smith opens an adaptation of the eighties classic by introducing us to the Kaslan Corporation (a parody of Amazon). The company is launching its newest product, the”Buddi”, a doll designed to be life-long companions to their owners, by learning from their surroundings, and acting accordingly. Buddi dolls can also connect to and operate other Kaslan products, quickly becoming a success with children worldwide.

A worker is let go from his job at one of the assembly factories for his subpar performance. Enacting his revenge, the worker decides to remove all of the safety protocols for the doll. Meanwhile in Chicago, store worker Karen (Aubrey Plaza) and her son Andy (Gabriel Bateman) are having trouble adjusting to life in the big city. To cheer her son up, Karen procures a defective “Buddi” doll for Andy (who happens to be the same doll from the film’s opening). After activating the doll, Andy learns his name is Chucky (voice work by Mark Hamill) and that the doll is self-aware.

At first, Andy is enjoying his new toy. However, when Chucky’s learned behavior turns to violent tendencies, Andy realizes he’s in over his head. With bodies piling up and local detective Mike Norris (Brian Tyree Henry) investigating the gruesome events, Andy realizes that he must stop his new friend.

Growing up in the eighties, one of my favorite toys was the My Buddy doll. I named mine Joey and took him everywhere with me, until I saw the original version of Child’s Play in 1988. The angle of using a killer doll to terrorize its owner is a nifty concept. It could serve as a lesson on the danger of spending too much time playing with toys and games.

The angle that scriptwriter Tyler Burton Smith takes with his script is true to life with its concept. One of the things I liked most was the script shows the dangers of modern technology. Kaslan Corporation, the conglomerate featured in the movie, has its hands in everything. So the scenes where the doll takes control of household appliances via the cloud, were very cool to watch. In terms of the direction, Lars Klevberg does a commendable job on his second feature. Klevberg builds the relationship between Andy and Chucky with a slow, delicate craft. And when Chucky finally goes off the deep end, the death scenes are magnificent. Quite a few are inventive, and all are grisly. The blood looks convincing and while Chucky isn’t scary in all of the scenes, he does come off as genuinely frightening for younger viewers.

Known for her comedic work, Aubrey Plaza does a great job portraying the mom character. While Gabriel Bateman makes a welcome return to the horror genre after his role in 2016’s Lights Out. As a fan of Brian Tyree Henry, I’ll generally support anything he’s in and as Mike Norris, he gives another fun performance.

The real star of the film is Mark Hamill voicing our villain Chucky. Hamill, whose career experienced a resurgence with his voice work in the past, was the perfect choice for the role. Hamill’s voice does an excellent job of capturing the child-like ‘innocence’ of the doll. Initially, we feel that Chuckie is really a cute toy but before long, we get a feeling that it’s a creepy doll that probably will turn bad. 

While I didn’t find the remake of Child’s Play as scary as the original, I did enjoy it overall. Because let’s be honest, a robot is less scary than a possessed voodoo doll with a spirit of a serial killer. On its own merits, the remake of Child’s Play has enough inventive kills, funny moments, and lessons on the dangers of electronics attachment to warrant my recommendation.

Final Grade B-

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