Updated: Nov 16, 2019
Right off the bat, I can say that I’m not a fan of remakes. Sure, some have been okay. I liked The Hills Have Eyes (2006), Dawn of the Dead (2004)and Evil Dead (2013). In fact if you go back a little, some of the best horror films are remakes. Case in point, The Fly (1986) and The Thing (1982). These examples are rare however and 9 out of 10 remakes suck. A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010), dreadful. The Wicker Man (2206), awful and Quarantine (2008), pointless. The list is almost endless.
I wasn’t thrilled when I first heard that plans were afoot to remake Child’s Play (1988). While I admit that the original is no masterpiece, I have a great fondness for the it.
The news updates got worse. Firstly, Chucky was to be a rogue, A.I. Robot. What? Why? Secondly, Brad Douriff would not be returning? Well that’s some bullshit. Thirdly, he is no longer a Good Guy doll, he’s now a Buddi doll. What the actual fuck is a Buddi doll? It got worse..
Then the first trailer dropped and left me underwhelmed, to say the least. As far as I was concerned the film was a write off.
About a month before the film entered theatres, news broke that Mark Hamill, yes that Mark Hamill, was on board as the new Chucky. An interesting piece of casting, I thought. Mark is no stranger to the world of voice acting, as any Batman fan will attest. Then the early reviews started rolling in and they were surprisingly positive.
Maybe I had been a little hasty..
I decided to watch Child’s Play with a more open mind and for the most part, I’m glad I did.
Child’s play manages to be exactly the same film as the original, yet completely different. I understand if that sounds baffling but it makes sense in my head.
The film opens on a factory in Vietnam. Some downtrodden, clearly depressed (we’ve all been there) worker sits assembling a doll. This isn’t just any doll. It’s the latest in must have gadgets. A walking, talking, learning, A.I. Robot doll. Now Mr Worker is having a pretty shitty day. As a last ditch, fuck you to his employers, Mr Worker decides to turn off all safety settings on the doll before giving himself a flying lesson off of the factory roof.
Skip forward a little bit to the good ol US of A, where we meet Karen Barclay (Aubrey Plaza). She is downtrodden, clearly fed up.. (wait, does nobody like their job in this film?). Karen works in retail, when one of the stores customers comes in to complain. He has purchased the latest, top of the line, Buddi doll for his kid and wants a refund because instead of having creepy, blue flashing eyes, the one he brought has creepy, red flashing eyes and this simply won’t do. Some dialogue later, Karen has managed to convince her boss to let her have the returned doll so she can give it to her Son for his birthday. After all it’s clearly broken as it has terminal pink eye.
Karen takes the doll and presents it to her kid. Andy is realistically to old to be playing with dolls but for the sake of the story it kinda works. Andy in the original movie was around 8 years old. I think Andy is meant to be about 13 in this but the decision to have Andy be that little bit older makes sense because Chucky’s problems begin with an exposure to environments and situations that would be less likely, encountered with an 8 year old.
Once activated, the doll begins learning through interaction. Step one is choose it’s name. Andy decides to name him Han Solo but Chucky vito’s this in favour of.. well Chucky.
This is where I found the film to be quite clever. Chucky isn’t programmed to be evil. This is something he picks up by following Andy around. He grows very protective of Andy and after witnessing Andy suffer through some pretty abusive situations at the hands of his Mothers, dickhead boyfriend, decides that prevention is the best cure. Violence has been the lesson most learnt as Chucky’s impressionable A.I. mind has been exposed to real life acts of aggression as well as on screen violence. In one scene, that would have been great if it wasn’t so annoying, Chucky is forced to sit through a screening of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. It’s great because you can see that Chucky is taking in every moment of it. It’s annoying because for anyone (like me), who knows that movie like the back of their hand, its completely out of sequence. Anyway, I digress..
Chucky’s random act’s of Violence begin for the right reasons. He is protective. He has a sense of loyalty and he doesn’t understand that it’s not okay to deal with situations by taking them on with a knife, or Lawnmower in this case.
It should be said that Mark Hamill’s turn as Chucky is fantastic. He brings a real innocence to the roll that makes Chucky’s corruption all the more believable. When it becomes time to switch on the menace though, Hamill turns it up to eleven and it’s a joy to watch. I will forever be a fan of Douriff’s and I love what he brings to the character but Hamill made all the difference to this movie.
Over the course of the film, Andy starts to notice the worrying turn that Chucky is taking and realises that he needs to take action. It starts by locking Chucky away and moves on to trying to rid himself of the doll completely. At this point you genuinely start to feel sorry for the toy on the verge of a psycotic breakdown. It really isn’t his fault. Chucky is nothing more than a victim of modern culture and human nature is just to ugly, not to leave a scar on an impressionable, artificial mind.
Of course, eventually Chucky goes full blown,Batshit crazy and decides to waste everyone but the journey to that point is an enjoyable one.
I liked this film, I really did. I liked the characters too. Aubrey Plaza is especially likeable as Karen. She brings a good level of humour to the part, without over doing it. The kid isn’t bad either. In many ways he is far less annoying than Alex Vincent was as the original Andy. I have a real problem with cherubic kids in movies. Just hurry up and kill them already... I didn’t mean that nice, Social Services person. The children are the future, honest..
Child's Play (2019) was so much better than I had imagined it would be. At no point did it feel like a lazy cash in. A real effort was made to tell a familiar story in a new and interesting way and for the most part, I honestly feel that they succeeded.
In the words of Sgt Harry Wells from Dog Soldiers, “It’s taught me to keep a very open mind. Boom Boom.”