Title: Child’s Play
Director: Lars Klevberg
Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Mark Hamill, Brian Tyree Henry
Runtime: 1 hr 30 mins
What It Is: After moving them to a new city, Karen (Plaza), a caring and playful mother decides to give her son Andy (Gabriel Bateman) an older model of the cloud-accessible Buddi doll who renames himself Chucky (Hamill). This particular doll has his quirks—completely impressionable yet able to understand the line between right, wrong, good or bad. After bonding with Chucky, Andy has to come to realize that the doll is capable of so much worse than he thought; an even forces him to abandon Chucky, leaving the toy bloodthirsty for vengeance.
What We Think: The trailer for this movie looked awful. The idea that an evil toy with wifi-compatibility seemed to cancel out what the doll is supposed to and not supposed to be capable of. The modern-age twist leads to predictability to an already cliche if not often nonsensical storyline (we have an evil doll in the Cloud now, guys—get ready for a Terminator-level apocalypse). I also was pretty against the design of Chucky and what seems to be the filmmakers’ attempt to make him look more… I dunno, “believable” as a child’s toy? Even in his most evil form does Chucky look no scarier than a Monsters Inc. character. Still—it’s a good time. This film is very ying-yang: for every bad, thing, there’s a good thing to weigh it back out. The majority of the film’s visual composition is very flat, yet the lighting is pretty colorful and, while obvious, makes the imagery still moody and interesting, acknowledging its sort of killer-toy-exploitation nature. A lot of the acting, namely the child acting, is freaking awful. While they do their best, most of the kids’ performances is rehersed and unconvincing and just straight out cheesy, as well as their characters exceptionally boring and forgettable. Which is very bad if you’re centering your film around child protagonists. On the other hand—we have Mark Hamill, who is amazing at voicing Chucky and giving him nuance to his character, and Aubrey Plaza, who shines as Andy’s mom with her dark sense of humor and heart. The story is as much as you can expect from any horror movie (the beginning makes little sense), but the developement of Chucky himself is really interesting. Instead of being possessed by an evil guy, Chucky is a broken sentient robot who can’t psychologically understand the dichotomy between pain and pleasure. It’s almost like he’s an actual little kid with a sociopathy thing going on—that was pretty cool to watch develop. That, and it was a funny movie—not necessarily trying to be funny outright, but was quirky in a lot of ways. It seriously made me laugh a couple times, many times actually on purpose. It’s admittedly hard for even actual comedies to do that for me.
Our Grade: C+, I enjoyed it. It’s awkward, a lot of the (child) acting is flat and forgettable, and it’s one big joke. The latter is its saving grace: it never takes itself uber-seriously, even at the end when movies like this hitch up their pants and try to get intense—it kept the jokes and the quirkiness going all throughout, and while it isn’t a smart or relatively electrifying watch, it’s a good dumb B-movie that you can have a laugh at / with. It’s a campy good time.