Child’s Play (2019)

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Child’s Play (2019)
Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Mark Hamill, Gabriel Bateman, Tim Matheson, Brian Tyree Henry, Beatrice Kitsos, Carlease Burke, Amro Majzoub
Director: Lars Klevberg
Nutshell: Witty, Nasty, Bloody, Pacy… a highly entertaining reboot of the 1988 classic.

Remaining a die-hard Child’s Play fan since the outset all those years ago was increasingly difficult as the last few installments had started to border on bad in-joke territory and the last one watched at the World Premiere seemed to be the end of the a dead end road.  There was little knowledge of a re-boot so it arrived as a bit of a surprise when this 2019 version popped up from nowhere all of a sudden, a few months ago.  In its favour was the fact that expectations were now at an all time low and that things really couldn’t get much worse than the last two or three sequels that had managed to squash any remaining enthusiasm for this done to death brand.  Not one to read any reviews before watching a movie it was still difficult not to pick up on some enthusiasm on social media for this new installment and thus the decision was made to give it a fair shot.

Expectations play a huge factor in how a person is going to react to a movie that comes with some baggage and the same was the case with this one.  Surely expecting a Killer Doll movie from 40 years ago {with a million and one spin offs in all parts of the globe) to have the same impact as it did today is like expecting a 40-year-old joke to be as funny and relevant as it was back in the late 80s.  A Maggie Thatcher or Ronnie Reagan joke isn’t quite as funny in an era of Donald Trump and Boris Johnson and a similar notion could be applied to a film that was silly and scary in equal measures back decades ago to have the same relevance today but this particular re-boot was familiar and yet engaging right from the outset despite viewers well familiar with the basic premise.

There was an initial collective groan that the doll didn’t look like Chucky as so many of us have grown used to as a taken for granted but as the movie unfolds Buddi soon makes his mark in his new internet app age era avatar and the film moves at such pace that you don’t really have time to grumble about his altered appearance.  Time changes everything and to expect Chucky to be exactly the same despite Brad Dourif’s passing wasn’t a realistic proposition and this film was re-boot, not a re-tread. 

Long time Child’s Play fans will already know the basic plot but it’s given a fresh treatment and transformed into the modern Alexa era smoothly and efficiently and events move so rapidly that there isn’t really time to groan about “that’s not the real Chucky” because it isn’t.  This Doll is called Buddi and is made in an Apple like slave house where a disgruntled worker messes with the dolls software as a way of taking revenge on the conglomerate who manufactures them in slavery conditions, as numerous companies operate today.

The familiar Child’s Play scenario is played out as expected but with heaps of nastiness and gore, all done with tongue firmly in cheek yet unrelenting on the shock and splatter which is deliciously plentiful.  The main characters are instantly likable and Buddi even nastier and more calculating and blood thirsty than anyone had the right to imagine.  The action comes thick and fast and the blood splatters in high velocity until the mayhem of the final showdown sequences and it all ends in a perfect blend of horror and humour which was always the hallmark of a good Child’s Play movie. Adults expecting to feel genuinely scared might feel a little let down, but then when was the last time a Child’s Play movie was remotely scary?

Many horror fans have found it below expectations but what were they expecting?  Political analysis or more in-jokes?  This has plenty of humour without joining a bandwagon in making any sort of political statement and goes about its business in a rollicking mode.  For those who wanted to chuckle, there is more than plenty of humour and Mark Hamill may not be Brad Dourif, but he infuses his own Buddi persona and does it quite brilliantly.  Keep in mind that Buddi is not Chucky and isn’t trying to be.  The kid playing Alex (Gabriel Bateman) is excellent and the mother (Aubrey Plaza) is perfect in her role.  The supporting cast is solid and the effects and death sequences done with aplomb. 

The film may not re-invent the Child’s Play thing but it updates it quite expertly and the pace of the movie is such that it doesn’t give you a moment to look at your watch, check your cell phone or fall asleep as some of the recent Child’s Play films have done far too easily.  For those expecting a reinvention and yet more of the same, this may come as a let down but as a re-boot its fast and furious, cheerful and nasty with some deliciously awful death sequences and a high quotient of blood splatter.  All done with gleeful spirit and humour.  What’s not to like? 

This film could have been the nail in the coffin of an already tired franchise but instead it breathes life into the theme and hopefully the next one will be equally fun.  In this case, all expectations were exceeded in a very welcome manner.  This Child’s Play movie is quite simply the best one since the first one from 1988. A whole bunch of laughs, brutal nastiness, buckets of blood all done with pace, style and in the right spirit. Spot on. Director Lars Klevberg and his script writers, take a bow.