Every time a reboot, remake, rehash, re-do, or remix of one of cult fave film occurs there tends to be a bit of a hubbub. And by “hubbub,” I mean Cold War type spats. These either lead to a shaky acceptance or all out Film Twitter disdain. In the case of Child’s Play, I can say that this is one that is an all-out surprise in terms my expectation being totally exceeded in a variety of delightful, if not murdery, ways.
Child’s Play takes the selective bones of Tom Holland’s Child’s Play ‘88 and strips it of the elements of voodoo and possession. Instead, taking a two-fisted approach to the scarier side of spooky AI and nearly existent tech. Here, the Kaslan Buddi doll is able to control other Kaslan products through Bluetooth, giving him a wide range of control over tech like drones, thermostats, home electronics, etc… Taking a much more Sci-fi approach to the previous straight horror approach.
In the place of a voodoo ritual, we are instead introduced to a disgruntled employee at a Kaslan factory who decides to remove certain safety features from one particular Buddi doll. When young mother decides to gift the doll to her son, things take a bloody, and sometimes oddly touching turn
Director Lars Klevberg comes at this through a really fun approach. Well written and delivered dialogue makes everyone believable and ultimately likeable. Creating a fun Monster Squad, or Lost Boys era childhood camaraderie dynamic. The stand out feature in the first two acts of the film revolve primarily around how bizarre and funny the approach is to Andy and Chucky’s relationship. The beats are familiar to the relationship between John Connor and the T-800 in Terminator 2.
The most hilarious bits are built around the fact that the Buddi doll is severely… off. From facial expressions to strange dialogue, it’s cute and clear that this lil dude is on a planet of his own. Mark Hamill lending voice to Chucky seals the deal and makes the whole Chucky experience magical and simultaneously maniacal.
Don’t let all my talk about how funny and semi-adorable sections of this movie are though, horror hounds. Child’s Play is 100 percent brutal creating some severely well-done gory kills. All while keeping it almost completely practical in the process. Added to that Chucky is very creepy, watching Andy sleep or sitting in dark corners in full stalker mode.
The quality of the third act of Child’s Play is where we see the film start to follow more traditional tropes and is ultimately where the film didn’t work for me. It is seemingly and suddenly in a rush to get to the end credits. And does a criminal job of taking the strange heart that the previous acts did a great job building up. It’s rudimentary but not terrible.
It would be criminal if I didn’t mention the creepy and catchy Buddi song that is repeated more than a few times throughout the films runtime. In addition to the song being pretty dang great, Klevberg and Co. frame the tune in a different light each time it is comes up. Making the song, hilarious, terrifying, heartbreaking and then hilarious again. Composer, Bear McCreary brings a vivaciously eerie soundtrack to the mix all driven by children toys that he decided to use to capture the sounds of a child’s playroom.
This Child’s Play exists in its own parallel universe in my mind. It re-imagines a new killer doll nightmare and does so in a way that is an absolute blast and on its own terms. I’m not usually a remake apologist but in the case of this Child’s Play there is enough driving its engine that I was pleasantly surprised with just how impressive parts of it were. There is nothing about this iteration that takes anything away from Don Mancini’s ongoing Chucky legacy. In fact, this film takes care not to step too far into that wheelhouse and ultimately won me over in the process.