Horror Club: Child's Play (2019)
It's probably safe to say that 1988's Child's Play is the leading cause of thousands upon thousands of people who suffer from pediophobia: the fear of dolls. The red-haired doll turned killer Chucky haunted the nightmares of kids across the globe when the film came out, and made everyone think twice about those creepy little lifeless eyes. The film was the basis for six sequels and an upcoming TV series; but the fresh to theaters Child's Play that came out this weekend is a reboot of the story and character - and this time, he's WIFI enabled, bringing him into modern times, of course! Since the release of the trailer for the movie, the studio has gotten a pretty decent amount of criticism from fans on both the concept and the design of the doll - some from myself included. All the hype around the reboot led up to this weekend, so I had to make sure Soulless Cult was there opening weekend to see just how bad it was - and I'm relieved to say the film is actually pretty god damn good, if you can look past its few flaws! Child's Play blew me away with its humor, kills, gore, homage to the classic, and to be honest, by the end of the movie, even the WIFI enabled concept grew on me. If you can get past the dreadful design of the doll (who - at times - doesn't even look like a doll), Child's Play is actually one of the best films in the entire franchise, and this film will surely spawn a whole new level of pediophobia in young people today, much like the original did over thirty years ago!
Written by Tyler Burton Smith and directed by Lars Klevberg, Child's Play breathes a fresh breath on the classic story of killer doll Chucky (voiced by the legendary Mark Hamill), but it does it with a 2019 twist. Kaslan Industries is one of the top tech companies in the world, and they're creating a whole network of devices and features that work with each other. The "Buddi" doll is a smart-doll that can learn, adapt, and influence your child's everyday life. After some dirty and dark events go down at the Kaplan Industries factory in Vietnam, the particular doll that ends up in the hands of 13 year old Andy (excellently played by Gabriel Bateman) has all of its safety parameters disabled - so you can only imagine where this goes from here. As the "Buddi" doll - which mistakenly names its self "Chucky" - becomes obsessed with its owner, it will do anything to anyone who even thinks about hurting or coming between it and Andy, and no one or no thing is safe. Will Andy be able to convince his mother Karen (played by Aubrey Plaza) that its the doll that's causing all of the mayhem, or will Karen think her son is losing his damn mind? One thing's for sure: it's best not to fuck with the Chuck.
Part of what makes the 2019 rendition of this story so great is how - even though the origin story is vastly different, as well as the concept - this film manages to do a great job taking the classic elements of its predecessors and bringing it into this modernized reboot of the franchise. From the comedic one-liners to the utter brutality of the kills, this movie did a great job at getting the audience in the packed out theater to laugh at the funny, and shriek at the bloody. I don't care what every "professional film critic" says about this movie: I was in the theater with a nearly sold out crowd, and their reactions throughout the film paint a very different picture than the negativity that critics often dish out to movies like this one. And I found myself right there alongside all the other movie-goers, laughing and loving all the great Chucky lines as the horror geek in me loved the outrageous kills, which there's no shortage of! The story actually wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be going into it - honestly, after seeing the trailer, I was so hesitant about this film because it just looked o fucking tacky. I was reluctant to believe a tech-driven storyline would be any good, but the story was actually put together pretty well for what it is! You get Chucky's new origin story, a great infomercial for the "Buddi" doll as an opening sequence, a totally killer cast, and one evil fucking doll. It didn't take long for me to be absorbed into the story and to put aside my hesitation about the film; Child's Play pulls you right into what made the original so good, but with a slick 2019 twist that works better than expected.
When I originally saw Chucky's design, I was pretty floored: "Buddi" is supposed to be a doll. And Chucky looks anything but a doll. Half the time he looks like a weird child, other times he looks so overly CGI'd that its almost offensive. The original film looked so fucking good because Chucky looked so fucking good. He looked like an actual doll because he was an actual doll. This film is just further proof that CGI simply just cannot replicate an actual, physical medium. Puppetry and physical elements in films - not only in horror but in cinema as a whole - just cannot be beat, and its films like this one that reminds you of just that. I figured by the end of the film Chucky's look would eventually win me over, but honestly, it never did and its the one element of the film that I just couldn't get down with. If none of the previous films existed and this was the first in the series, this criticism might not be so harsh, but for a series that has content spanning 30+ years now, I guess I just expected better. That being said, if you can look past the displeasing look of the "Buddi" doll, I can assure you, Child's Play is one of the better reboots to a series we've seen in recent years. Armed with an amazing cast, the movie plays out just as fun as the classics as you await the comedic impending doom of the films characters. Gabriel Bateman does an exceptional performance as Andy - one that would no doubt make Alex Vincent proud. His descent into madness as his friend 'til the end begins picking people in his life off is played out amazingly well and his facial expressions throughout the movie are priceless. The adults in the film - Aubrey Plaza as his mother, David Lewis as her boyfriend, and Brian Tyree Henry as Detective Mike - only enhance the experience with their performances, adding additional likable characters, witty lines, and giving Andy the additional backup he needs to take down his stalker doll. And what does every good slasher film have besides the bad guy? That's right: the kills. And Child's Play more than delivers with some devilishly clever and excellently executed, brutal kills. The team behind the movie really did a good job at utilizing Chucky's new AI features to deliver some devastating blows, and it makes nearly all of the kills in the movie memorable ones.
My final thoughts on this one is that I'm so happy this movie ended up being this good. I think most people were probably hesitant about Child's Play after seeing the trailer, but I'm happy to report that it is substantially better than the previews made it out to be. The design and look is flawed, sure - he often looks straight out of Team America: World Police - but the overall atmosphere of the classic Child's Play films are definitely there, and just as good as they were way back when. This one's worth both your time and money - go out and see it!