Childs Play (2019): review by @Kush_Hayes
In 2013 we got what was a direct to home media (soft reboot) of Child’s Play, called Curse of Chucky. It dropped all of the comedy from the sequels with Jennifer Tilly and went back to the dark horror film this series roots were established in. And they upped their game. What’s scary about a killer doll? - You can just kick it in the corner. And with that, they replied, “Ok well our protagonist is in a wheelchair. And stuck on the second floor.” OK, you got me again, that was pretty good. And then in 2017, we got a sequel to that, and they went back to the comedy elements. It also linked up these last two films to the core franchise bringing back Andy Barclay as an adult in a limited role while still focusing on the survivor of the previous film who is now in an Insane Asylum in Cult of Chucky. Popular horror website “Bloody Disgusting” reports we’re even getting a mini series continuing this Chucky-Prime storyline.
After recalling all that, it makes the idea of another reboot, this time really rebooting it much more confusing. But thats what we got. And for the most part, it exhibits a lot of potential.
The original Child’s Play and its six sequels following it were all based on Voodoo rituals being a thing, that a serial killer from Chicago just happened to know how to perform. This movie takes it upon itself to make a commentary about International Labor Laws, American Consumerism, Capitalism, The Negatives of Artificial Intelligence, Anti-Social behaviors, Single Parents trying hard and then still making more mistakes, of course with tongue planted firmly in cheek.
We still get a beautiful thunderstorm over the sweatshop manufacturing Buddi Dolls in Vietnam, but it has nothing to do with our Buddi malfunctioning. Our perfect storm is only because a bad manager picked the wrong overworked/underpaid employee to scold one night and upon being told he’s being fired decides to remove every safety protocol on this one unit. To which he completes, boxes, adds to the next shipment and then proceeds to throws himself off the roof.
We then meet our imperfect family who are Karen and Andy played by Aubrey Plaza and Gabriel Bateman. The few scenes we get with Plaza as the mom, fluctuate back and forth between a mom raising a child on her own and doing multiple double shifts to pay rent. And then we get some scenes where they let her adlib and the work with the scene being presented. Plaza is able to play off her supporting cast naturally without taking away anything from the movie.
We spend most of our movie with Bateman as Andy who interacts with what looks at times to be an animatronic puppet at various times flawlessly. And when we witness Chuckys malfunctions with Bateman his reactions are the same as our own including several times when Andy instructs Chucky to “stop being so creepy”. His interactions with his friends in the first half are well done and even into the beginning of the second half when they all abandon him.
What eventually gets Chucky to the Bateman house is just a basic return at the local “ZedMart”, where the original family to purchase the doll reported “its eyes started glowing red, so that didnt make us feel safe.”, of course this is one of Moms many mistakes as she takes Chucky home in an attempt to pacify her son who’s already distracted by his phone. I hope theres a deleted scene of the original owners when this shifts to home media.
When this movie was announced I think it was just assumed that the original voice of Brad Dourif would just continue the role, especially with the announcement of the TV series around the same time. But ultimately Voice Over Master Mark Hamill would take over the duties for Chucky in this new iteration. I can’t have been the only one to think we would just use his “Joker” voice from the “Batman Animated Series”. Of course thats when we also thought we were getting the same maniacal serial killer from three decades ago. What we do end up getting through Hamill is the writing exploring an Artificial Intelligence programmed to keep a child happy by any means necessary and how far it will go to complete its objective. We see the doll processing gestures and attempt to comprehend the difference between a request and just venting negatively. We see that absolutely its a bad idea to give a kid an AI object and what kind of fucked up behavior the AI picks up thinking its perfectly reasonable imitate. Many times through the movies first half you see Chucky confused about how it could have performed a negative action when its only objective is to perform positive actions for its owner.
Of course things go too far and the kids decide its best to just pull the plug on Chucky and toss him in the garbage chute. I thought they were sending him to an incinerator, but alas, Chuckys Robot Shell falls into a bin, and he is recovered by the building superintendent who happens to be spying on all of his tenants. …and then we get a homage to Frankenstein. At some point a severed head is gift wrapped and delivered to a neighbor down the hallway as is left for days never decomposing in its paper wrapping. This movie, that was an interesting reboot of The Terminator immediately devolves back into a Childs Play movie, because, Childs Play. And then by the end, Chucky is filled with maniacal laughter, because, hes Chucky.
This movie was much better than I thought it was going to be going into it. However with that first half being So Strong, and the second half, being not at all, I left the movie slightly disappointed. I really believe director Lars Klevberg and writer Tyler Burton Smith were trying to do something different and use the horror genre to make a point, but it feels like somewhere there was some interference involved.
I would say, if you’re a Die-Hard Childs Play fan, dont see this, but its also hard to stand by that when the original series has had many tonal shifts already. But if you insist on needing your cinematic serial killers to practice VooDoo, I recommend seeing The Prodigy from February of 2019. It is Childs Play without the Doll. Oddly enough, both movies were distributed through Orion Pictures.
Three out of Six Blueberries