‘Child’s Play’ Surprisingly Pulls It Off
It’s a sad state of affairs when so much of what is coming out of Hollywood these days are sequels and reboots. When’s Child’s Play (2019) was slated for release, it was expected to be an unnecessary addition to the killer doll franchise. However, while it still may be unnecessary, Child’s Play actually proves itself to be a commendable adaptation updated for the present day; independent from the original.
Instead of being possessed, Chucky (Mark Hamill) is now a Buddi doll able to connect to smart devices such as phones, televisions, and security systems. Due to a disgruntled employee, Chucky is programmed without any safeguards and is shipped off to the unlucky child who receives it. That child is Andy (Gabriel Bateman), a hard-of-hearing thirteen-year-old who finds himself lonely and struggling to find friends. His mother, Karen (Aubrey Plaza), doesn’t know what to do as a single mother and gifts Andy a returned, and defective, Buddi doll she obtains at work. Andy isn’t sure what to make of the toy, which is clearly broken, but he quickly takes on the challenge when he realizes there is something different about Chucky.
With Chucky, Andy branches out more as he makes some new friends and becomes reliant on the doll to keep him entertained. They involve themselves in innocent pranks and resort to scaring his mom’s boyfriend Shane (David Lewis) when the opportunity presents itself.
Eventually, though, the situation starts to become more serious. Chucky is becoming possessive of Andy and will do anything to protect him. When Andy’s cat scratches him, Andy catches Chucky choking it and intervenes before it’s too late. When Andy and his friends are watching a slasher film one night, Chucky imitates the movie by picking up a knife and sneaking up on one of his friends before being caught. Chucky says he thought it would make Andy happy, as he saw the joy Andy had in watching the movie.
These concerning behaviors continue until it becomes too late, and Chucky is lost to his errant programming and commits himself to violence. After all, if he can’t be Andy’s friend, nobody can. What ensues is precisely what has made the doll famous, a murderous spree that is true to the slasher genre.
But, even as Child’s Play dives into the horror, it still finds moments to be light, funny, and even goofy. It takes time to not take itself too seriously, and this creates, in a way, two movies where the first half has more comedy before the sinister elements fully start up.
It’s also essential to mention Mark Hamill’s voice acting in this movie. He makes the character of Chucky his own, and it’s a memorable performance. Hamill has long established himself as a voice actor since his days at Luke Skywalker, most memorably as the Joker in Batman: The Animated Series.
Unfortunately, the movie is far from perfect. As mentioned, the divide between humor and horror is rather apparent, and it does create a feeling of two films in one, rather than a seamless transition between both throughout the story. This can be a little distracting, but the quality stands for itself and can be forgiven. In the film, there is also a plot device established with Andy and his hearing aid, but it’s never something that proves to be relevant to the story. In 2018, A Quiet Place had a similar narrative, and one of the main character’s hearing aids proved essential to the story, and that appears to be the direction Child’s Play goes in, but that never actually happens.
All in all, this is a worthy addition to the horror genre and far better than what we’ve seen so far this year. For what should’ve been an obvious disaster, Child’s Play expertly crafted its own story and kept the entertainment consistent from beginning to end without ever dragging on. This movie surprisingly pulls it off and, as a result, it won’t be forgotten anytime soon.
This review originally appeared on Salt Lake Film Review