Child’s Play (2019)

The new Child’s Play is out, and it is pretty good.

The film follows the premise from the original 1987 film. Andy Barclay (Gabriel Bateman) doesn’t have any friends, her single mom (Aubrey Plaza) is working extra shifts and our favourite murder doll comes into the picture. Certainly, a single mom working shifts in a retail store cannot afford an AI doll, so she persuades her manager to let her keep a defective Buddi doll as a present for Andy’s upcoming birthday. These dolls — manufactured by the Kaslan company — imprint on the first human who gives them an order, and instantly become their best friend ‘til the end. Throughout the rest of the movie, we see Chucky trying to learn what makes Andy happy and what upsets him. Eventually, Chucky discovers violence and starts using it to erase Andy’s problems. All hell breaks loose and Chucky will do anything to stop anyone who dares to separate him from Andy.

There is a lot to enjoy in this film. In its 90-minute runtime, we get gore and humour at equal parts. For the first half of the film, Chucky is the most creepy/adorable thing you’ve seen. For the second half, he turns into an obsessed maniac that would kill every single person on the planet until only he and Andy are left. However, this is not just a fun slasher film with very gory kills. This movie has a soul. It is full of social commentary and satire. The messages against capitalism, modern slavery and our dependence on technology are very much in your face — but they are effective, and this movie could work as an episode of Black Mirror.

Director Lars Klevberg (Polaroid) redeems himself with this film. The score by Bear McCreary (Battlestar Galactica, The Walking Dead) is wonderful, and the Buddi theme song is so charming that you won’t be able to stop singing it. The cinematography, by Brendan Uegama (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Riverdale) has a really cool ’80s vibe that fits very well with the plot of the movie and I can’t wait to watch on Blu-ray.

The acting is good overall. Gabriel Bateman’s performance as Andy is heartfelt and compelling, and if you are a fan of Aubrey Plaza here you have her playing her quirky self yet again — only this time she is a mother. If Plaza is not your cup of tea you will have a hard time finding any sympathy for her character. The charismatic Mark Hamill does a decent job with Chucky’s voice, but fans of his work as the Joker will find many similarities between the two voices.

The film has some shortcomings though. It takes a while to get used to Chucky’s new look. The CGI is a little heavy-handed on his face at times. We are talking about the uncanny valley, and it’s hard to say if this was intentional. Despite its great gory scenes, the film should’ve had a higher kill count, especially during the final act — the film doesn’t go all the way, and seasoned horror fans might find it predictable.

In conclusion, if you are a Chucky fan and are conflicted about going to see this movie, don’t be. There is a lot to enjoy here. We will have to wait and see how the film performs in the box office to know if there will be a sequel, but there is a place for both Child’s Play universes to co-exist. This is a perfect example of a “good remake”, a film that tries to say something different by updating the elements from a classic and beloved film, making the story relevant to our current times.