No matter what your background was growing up, there's a good chance we all shared one common denominator: a fear of monsters. Whether they live in your closet or came from under your bed, everybody has had at least one sort of run-in with these evil beings who want to catch us in the dark. Pretty much every kid would want to run far, far away from their monsters, but what's really haunting about these beasts is them connecting with your child. By becoming relatable, monsters seem more like friends than they do enemies, and that plays a huge role in the new horror thriller COME PLAY. Written and directed by Jacob Chase, the film follows a mother and father as their son is essentially stalked - via screens - by an ominous, terrifying creature simply named Larry. Larry preys on vulnerable children who feel lost or lonely - an absolutely horrifying thought as a parent. If you go into this movie hoping for a bunch of jumpscares (which it turns out a lot of people did), you may find yourself disappointed; however, if you go into this movie aware that you're about to indulge in a story-driven, nightmarish film about childhood monsters come to life, you're in for quite a treat. It feels like Come Play cares less about giving you a quick, effortless jumpscare and more about sucking you into this dreadful, cyclic world where Larry preys on a child's innocence. It actually puts you more so in the shoes of his parents than the child himself, which is equally as terrifying. While the film feels an awful lot like The Babadook but only with screens vs. a book, Come Play makes for a great late-night feature. It's nothing genre-shattering that we'll be talking about for years to come, but it is more than a welcomed addition to the small list of horrors to come out during the current global crisis.
Oliver is a nonverbal autistic child who relies on his devices - cellphone and tablet - to communicate with his parents Sarah (Gillian Jacobs) and Marty (John Gallagher Jr.). Their marriage is rocky, which I'm sure puts a lot of stress on young Oliver already, but the strange occurrences he is about to go through brings the family together just slightly, in a weird way. You see, a strange ebook pops up on Oliver's phone that tells the chilling story about the monster Larry, and about how Larry is lonely, he knows that the child is lonely, and that if they become friends, neither of them will be lonely anymore. As soon as Oliver begins reading just a few pages of the story, strange things begin happening to him and his family... and that's only the beginning. Larry cannot fully cross over from his world into ours without his story being fully read, and once he is unleashed into our world, he can only be banished back to his world by having someone accept his hand and end his loneliness. Larry continues to haunt, stalk and terrorize Oliver and his parents, as well as his classmates, until he gets his way. Will the trio be able to ward off the monster, or will he bring them all back to his lonely, dark world?! Find out in... COME PLAY!
If you couldn't already tell by the synopsis, this film has a pretty dark tone to it that never truly lifts. It's a sad, dreary little movie that touches on some pretty dark topics, and while the film won't leave you an emotional mess, there's absolutely potential for it to leave a mark with viewers. Putting aside Larry's evil, monstrous ways, I think a lot of people can relate to his (and even Oliver's) desire for a friend, his feeling of loneliness. And that's exactly how he draws you in and preys on you. The monster also looks downright terrifying; his lanky, slim body only makes a handful of appearances but each one is better than the last. Honestly, I don't see Larry becoming the next popular monster like The Babadook or Slenderman, but that's not to say he's not sinister. What really makes this movie, though, it's even the monster: it's the family. The love that Sarah has for her son, and her desire for him to love her back and simply look her in the eyes (to show comfort) is so undeniable and even relatable. The mess that Oliver is sucked into - not just with Larry but with his classmate friends - is something no parent would ever wish for their kid, and it makes for a great little subplot to coincide with the overall theme. There are definitely a few jumpscares thrown in the mix to kinda keep you on edge, but they are far from what the movie is based on (oh, and they're great ones too, trust me). Overall, Come Play will absolutely appeal to those who love "bedtime" horror flicks or movies about childhood nightmares, and the film will totally deliver. I don't see the movie topping any must-see lists, but it's definitely worth at least one watch - even if it's just to catch a glimpse of Larry. Check it out!!!