I’m going to go ahead and admit that I was hesitant about seeing the current iteration of Chucky…uh I mean Child’s Play. Everyone’s favorite killer doll has been the subject of several different films in the same franchise, including my two favorites, Bride of Chucky and Seed of Chucky. I was of the mind that if anything, the franchise should just keep going. I didn’t think it was necessary to remake it. Then again, I think all remakes are bad in theory until I hopefully get proved wrong when I watch them. I’m not one hundred percent sure if that’s what happened with Lars Klevberg’s remake mostly because it’s almost a totally different story.
In the original Don Mancini/Tom Holland film, Chucky was possessed by the soul of a serial killer. In the 2019 adaptation, Chucky is just one of the millions of Buddi dolls. Buddis are made by a mega-conglomerate, Kaslan, which can be seen as a sort of a Google/Amazon type entity. The Buddi Dolls can connect to the cloud and all other Kaslan products to help watch your kid and help out around the house. I’m sure a lot of people might think this sounds pretty cool, but in this version of reality, it ends up being quite the opposite.
“The Buddi Dolls can connect to the cloud… to help watch your kid and help out around the house.”
The Buddi dolls are made in a Vietnamese factory under less than favorable conditions. At the beginning of the film, a worker is sitting at his workstation not doing anything, and his foreman comes up and screams at him for not working and tells him he’s fired after he finishes the doll that he’s working on. So, the worker toys with the programming of the particular Buddi doll in a not so positive way and then proceeds to throw himself on top of a car. This beckons comparison to the Apple factories in China that installed nets outside of the factories to prevent the considerable amount of suicides that happened after workers being pushed beyond human limits.
We’re then taken to a nameless city where Karen Barclay (Aubrey Plaza) has just moved with her 13-year-old son, Andy (Gabriel Bateman). Andy is a bit of a shy outcast and has a hard time making friends in their new town. Karen sees the struggles that Andy is going through when she finds out that whenever her boyfriend Shane (David Lewis) comes over, Andy’s not hanging out with new friends that he’s made, but hanging out in the hallway of the building playing games on his phone. This is also how he meets his neighbor, who just so happens to be a police detective, Mike Norris (Brian Tyree Henry).
Out of guilt for Andy’s trouble adapting to their new circumstances, Karen gets Andy a Buddi doll that has been returned in a damaged box to her job, ZedMart. At this point, I’m sure you can guess which Buddi doll Andy received. Voiced by the one and only Mark Hamill, this buddy doll names itself Chucky, instead of Han Solo, which Andy wanted to name it (nice Meta Star Wars joke). At first, Andy is annoyed by Chucky, but it doesn’t take long till they actually do become friends. Chucky is a little bit too helpful, misinterpreting what Andy says about the cat, and his mom’s boyfriend, and other things, and then taking matters into his own robotic hands. Child’s Play actually makes Chucky somewhat sympathetic, which is interesting. He’s only doing the bad things he does to help his friend Andy. At least at first.
“It’s a darkly funny allegory about technology with awesome practical gore.”
There are some really cool, inventive death scenes in the movie. There’s an entire homage to Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 which is exceptionally awesome, and lots of setpieces with tools and other automated devices have gone on the fritz in the worst possible way. In addition to the cool death scenes, there are actually some pretty funny moments in the movie. Aubrey Plaza is great as Karen, as she is great in almost every movie she’s in. Brian Tyree Henry is, of course, funny, but also genuinely kind and heroic as Detective Norris. The final ten minutes of the film, which take place in ZedMart, really goes off the rails into a no-holds-barred AI vs. human death match that is incredibly ridiculous and bizarre. If you’re afraid of creepy dolls, then be warned.
Overall, I’m glad I watched Child’s Play. It wasn’t bad at all, which is a lot more than what I was expecting. It’s a darkly funny allegory about technology with awesome practical gore. Chucky as CGI is still weird to me, but it makes sense in a way, I suppose. Mark Hammil really gives a soul and personality to the misunderstood murder doll. I’d say that you will probably like the film if you go in with zero expectations. It’s really good as a stand-alone entity. I do personally hope that they keep going with the pre-existing Chucky franchise. This film DOES NOT need a sequel. The ending seemed final, and I hope it is. But knowing that there’s already a sequel in the works for the Blumhouse produced Halloween, we can expect to see Mark Hamill as Chucky again. I kind of hope not, but maybe I’ll be surprised by how much I like it, just as I was in the case of this film. We shall see.
Child’s Play (2019) Written by Tyler Burton Smith. Directed by Lars Klavberg. Starring Aubrey Plaza, Brian Tyree Henry, Mark Hamill, Gabriel Bateman, Tim Matheson, David Lewis, Beatrice Kidsos, Trent Redekop, Ty Consiglio, Carlease Burke, Ben Andrusco-Daon
7 out of 10 stars