Nothing has surprised me more than 2019’s Child’s Play reboot. The latest in the long line of franchise revivals, this comes out wedged between a Men in Black soft reboot and a Charlie’s Angels reboot that is due out by the end of the year. At least one of these is a major flop with the latter almost definitely going to be. Child’s Play breaks free from that with something that is an almost completely original while (probably) staying true to what you’d expect from Chucky’s iconic franchise.
This time around the signature doll is almost an Amazon Alexa parody. A doll that works with all of your Kaslan products giving him control of your lights, heating, electronics and cars, not great when your doll was reprogrammed with an evil code. It is basically tapping into some of the well-founded fears of technology that we have today, especially when it comes to artificial intelligence. A danger we are often warned about in the news by the likes of Hawking and Zuckerberg.
Our main character Andy is given the interactive pal, Buddi, by his mother (Parks and Rec’s Aubrey Plaza) as an early birthday present but obviously, it doesn’t act as intended. Clamouring for his affection, to be his best friend and to make sure he is having fun the doll ends up going on a murderous rampage in a bid to impress and then ultimately get revenge. Surprisingly, a lot of the best moments of the film come before the rampage as Andy tests out his new toy, we see it in a variety of situations that are fun to watch. This includes stuff as simple as being used to mess with his stepdad, to stabbing something and exclaiming “for Tupac” something I never thought I’d hear a robot say in a film.
Mark Hamill plays the iconic plaything, providing a sense of both cuteness with a lot of sinister undertones, I had watched an interview he had done with Rotten Tomatoes the day before seeing the film where he talked about the process of getting the voice and the layers he puts into it and it shows. Chucky feels like a vulnerable child who is oblivious to the world and really, deep down, just wants to make a friend, a friend he thinks he has in Andy. He doesn’t have a friend in him though as Chucky shows his love in horribly gruesome ways. You still feel for him though, it’s this weird cry for attention in the beginning as he tries his best but as the film goes on you watch this doll’s descent into madness, Hamill’s voice adds this human quality to what could be a pretty lifeless robotic doll but isn’t afraid to move into ultra-terrifying territory, a switch he seems to be able to flip pretty seamlessly in his voice work.
A shout-out must also be given to the animatronic, puppeteering and robotics work that has gone into this film. The Buddi seems to be brought to life with a mixture of these classic techniques and while it is almost definitely CGI enhanced in some way, the film benefits greatly from the real world presence of Chucky in the film. Having him there gives him so weight so when he is coming for characters with that kitchen knife you really do feel the pressure.
The gore is where this film absolutely shines as well. Everything feels suspenseful and almost terrifying in the build-up. This could be because my mate Awais and I are massive babies, but we spent a lot of these scenes squirming in our seats through sheer suspense, waiting on the chop of a knife or cut of saw. There is a scene set in a basement that I feel is a masterclass in the build-up to a kill. It was watched through your fingers stuff at that point. When it does eventually come it is almost satisfying. It’s over the top manner in which the gory detail is presented aids the film’s comedy and horror elements simultaneously.
Overall, the film ticks all the boxes you’d want in a horror film. It has the suspense, the gore and the brilliantly detailed killer in Chucky. Yet it knows what it is, the film never sets out to be anything more than an absolute blast from beginning to end. I had a great time. There is no denying that the odds were not in its favour, but it managed to break through the reboot fatigue to become something unexpected, an almost original and brilliant film.
Side Note: I will be campaigning for the Buddi Song to be nominated at the 2020 Academy Awards for Best Original Song. I will not rest until it happens.