Video Vices

Child’s Play (2019) Review

Child’s Play
Tag-Line: Wanna play?
Release Date: 2019.
Director: Lars Klevberg.
Written By: Brian Gunn and Mark Gunn.
Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Mark Hamill, Gabriel Bateman.
Running Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Child’s Play
Tag-Line: You’ll wish it was only make-believe.
Release Date: 1988.
Director: Tom Holland.
Written By: Don Mancini, John Lafia and Tom Holland.
Cast: Catherine Hicks, Chris Sarandon, Alex Vincent and Brad Dourif.
Running Time: 1 hour and 27 minutes.

Freddy couldn’t do it. Jason couldn’t do it. Leatherface couldn’t do it. Even Michael Myers couldn’t do it either in those rancid set of sequels by Rob Zombie. Sequels, which as I mentioned before, that I threw down our condo’s garbage chute when I bought the Halloween: The Complete Collection.

Chucky has surpassed his horror brethren in one very important regard. He has starred in a successful series reboot.

Child’s Play, the redo by rookie director Lars Klevbergand and writer Tyler Burton Smith, the scribbler behind the Quantum Break and Sleeping Dogs video games, is a restart worthy of the original franchise.

Child’s Play 2019’s story may be at odds with the on-going Chucky saga which turned out one of its best sequels with Cult of Chucky in 2017 but the filmmakers have made some clever choices and changes nonetheless.

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One change, which may or may not be a bone of contention with some fans, is that all of the supernatural elements have been sacrificed for a more modern approach to Chucky’s origin. In the 1988 film, Charles Lee Ray, a serial killer shot full of holes by law enforcement, uploads his consciousness, his soul into a Good Guy doll in order to escape death and the police. Ray is played by the incomparable Brad Dourif, who continues to voice Chucky to this day.

In Child’s Play 2019, Chucky is not a kid’s toy but more of a cool personal assistant, a companion for tweens produced and sold by the Kaslan Corporation. Kaslan is a multinational tech company that also makes a slew of popular personal devices that flawlessly interact with each other, which is a stark reminder that this movie is pure fantasy.

Chucky, who has more of a teenage appearance with long hair and a more mature overall look than its 1988 counterpart, is a highly advanced construct that can play board games, fetch you a snack, play music and even control other Kaslan devices, which includes the AI-driven vehicles of an Uber-like fleet. It is self-aware and capable of learning words and human behaviour.

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Just as Chucky is a more mature iteration so too is the character of Andy Barclay who receives the Buddi doll as a birthday gift from his guilt-ridden mom, Aubrey Plaza (TV’s Parks and Recreation, Legion) as Karen.

With sincere apologies to the now 38-year-old Alex Vincent, who has made a career of playing Andy Barclay since the first film, that original Andy was annoying as hell. The new and improved Andy, Gabriel Bateman from TV’s Outcast, American Gothic and Stalker, is a sympathetic kid trying to make new friends in a new home, new school while his mom struggles to make ends meet and continues to make bad choices as far as relationships go.

Although she would go on to star as the all-American, apple pie baking mom Annie Camden in the 7th Heaven television series, Catherine Hicks was awkwardly wholesome as Karen in the original. Just as Bateman is a far better Andy, Plaza is a far better Karen. Plaza’s Karen is a hip, human and flawed. She is not the perfect mom therefore she is a realistic, down to earth mom.

As the new kid in the neighbourhood, Andy temporarily fills the friendship void with Chucky. Their relationship becomes that of John Connor and The Terminator in Terminator 2: Judgment Day with Andy teaching Chucky human boundaries such a not kill his moody cat when it scratches him.

“Kitty hurt Andy,” replies a confused Chucky when a horrified Andy finds him strangling kitty.

For the first Chucky it would have been counterproductive to tear Andy limb from limb. He desperately needed to keep the snot-nosed twerp alive since he was the only human vessel Charles Lee Ray could be transfer his soul to in order to escape his synthetic prison.

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“I’m gonna be six years old again. Well, John, it’s been fun but I gotta go. I have a date with six-year-old boy,” Chucky says to shaman John Bishop as he discovers the solution to his current predicament.

This time around with all of the hocus pocus exorcised from the script Andy is an open target for the plastic psychopath. Once Andy settles in and starts making new friends at home and at school, Chucky finds himself replaced and as we all know by now, nobody puts Chucky in a corner. Nobody.

Gleaning some ghoulish ideas from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a jealous and wrathful Chucky starts severing the friendships and carotid arteries of Andy’s new friends, the best demise being someone having their legs broken after being pushed off a ladder, their head pulled into lawnmower and then stabbed exactly 13 times with a butcher knife by Chucky.

Yeah, Chucky 2.0 ain’t messing around. There may not be an impressive quantity of individual kills but the quality of those kills by FX folks Barry Hebein, Rob Krauzig and Akshay Dandekar are imaginative and extravagant.

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If you are going to get anyone to replace the 31 years of extraordinary Chucky voice work done by Brad Dourif then Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill, is the man to do the job. In Chucky’s voice a bit of Hamill’s legendary work as The Joker in Batman: The Animated Series, The Hobgoblin in Spider-Man: The Animated Series and The Trickster in The Flash can be heard. It is another frosty, sinister, nightmarish voice that just chills you to the bone especially when its tone is entirely sincere or good-humored.

The one change that garners mixed results is the introduction of Andy’s new friends. While they do provide some comic relief at times, their presence results in a dopey finale in which they join forces like those punks from Stranger Things, to take down Chucky along with Andy, his mother and Detective Norris.

When all is said and done though, Child’s Play, whether old or new, is a horror movie about a killer doll. Like the Puppet Master series, it is a derisive franchise. Some fans will buy into the silly, loopy premise while others will do their best Judge Judy rolling their eyes at the very notion of such a minute manufactured monstrosity wreaking havoc. This reboot though stands on its own and very well could be the makings of a parallel franchise despite its goofy finale.

Child’s Play 2019

Gravestones

grave_small grave_small grave_small grave_small grave_small grave_small grave_smallgrave_smallgrave_smallgrave_small

Suicide swan dive into a parked car.
Pushed off a ladder, legs broken, head sucked into a lawn mower and stabbed 13 times.
Stabbed, sliced in half by a saw blade.
Car crash and stabbed in the chest.
Knife to the neck.
Five people killed by Buddi dolls and flying drones

Child’s Play 1988

Gravestones

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Shot in the chest.
Pushed out an apartment window.
Barbecued in a house explosion.
Death via Voodoo doll.
Electrocuted.
Another bullet to the chest.

Child’s Play 2019

Naughty Bits

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None

Child’s Play 1988

Naughty Bits

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None

Memorable Dialogue

Child’s Play 2019

Chucky: Let’s open you up and see what’s on the inside.
Chucky: That’s no way to treat your best friend.
Detective Mike Norris: All moms are scary, by the way.
Chucky: You’re my best friend, Andy.
Chucky: Kitty hurt Andy.
Andy Barclay: Something is wrong with Chucky.

Child’s Play 1988

Chucky: Hi, I’m Chucky. Wanna play?
Chucky: You stupid bitch! You filthy slut! I’ll teach you to fuck with me.
Chucky: We’re friends ’til the end! Remember?
Karen Barclay: The heart, the heart! Shoot it in the heart!
Chucky: Good night, asshole!

Pints of Blood

Child’s Play 2019

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Child’s Play 1988

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Rating

Child’s Play 2019

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Child’s Play 1988

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