Cast: Gabriel Bateman, Mark Hamill, Aubrey Plaza, Brian Tyree Henry
Director: Lars Klevberg
The best move Child’s Play ever did was opening against Toy Story 4. The sadistic side of me loves hearing stories of families with small children walking into the wrong theater and freaking out over seeing an R-rated movie, but I haven’t heard of any stories so far meaning it was all for nought. Regarding the actual movie, going off grid and rebooting a very well-known franchise was a bold choice for Child’s Play, but to some degree, this idea works. Gone are the voodoo elements associated with the previous movies and they are replaced with technical elements that we could find in today’s society. With an interesting concept and strong performances by Bateman and Hammill, Child’s Play provides solid entertainment in a summer that has been pretty devoid of good horror movies.
The film follows Chucky (voiced by Hamill), a self-learning Buddi doll that can connect itself to your home’s electronics to help become a more immersive part of your life. When a disgruntled factory employee changes Chucky’s programing to remove the safety features, Karen Barclay (Plaza) picks up the dysfunctional toy for her son Andy (Bateman) without knowing the danger she’s put them in. When Chucky’s more dangerous elements take over, it puts everyone in his path in danger including the Barclay family. The one thing I wasn’t expecting from Child’s Play were some of the more elevating performances by Bateman and Hamill. As the lead actor Bateman is put in a very difficult position that most child actors couldn’t handle, but Bateman shows true potential in his role here. Displaying both the true fear of having a killer doll come after him as well as the growing pains of being a pre-teen in a financially struggling single-parent household, Bateman nails this role and may be one of the biggest surprises of the movie. Outside of Bateman, Hamill continues his trend of phenomenal voice-acting by giving one of the scarier performances of the year. Chucky has some pretty intense and gruesome moments and I don’t believe these scenes would’ve stood out as much if not for the voice performance by Hamill. Speaking of Chucky, I particularly enjoyed how a certain level of morality played into the characters he went after. In the beginning, Chucky goes after some of the more morally despicable characters, so for a time you end up rooting for Chucky at times before he turns on the characters you actually like. Reflecting on the gore and horror of the movie, it’s pretty tame compared to some of the more violent films we’ve seen, but it’s never really distracting. Sure it’s generic, but it’s a fun type of generic that can captivate audiences for the whole 90 minute runtime. Henry seems to be having a blast in his role and excites the audience whenever he’s on screen. For a summer horror movie, Child’s Play could’ve been a lot worse, but we ended up with something enjoyable with a little bit of rewatch value. After dropping the voodoo magic angle commonly associated with this franchise and switching things up for realistic technological side that I could honestly see happening in the next decade or so, Child’s Play makes the most of its premise and serves as a solid reboot for a franchise that kind of needed it.
Overall, Child’s Play wasn’t one of the movies this summer that I was most excited for, but it ended up being a decent horror movie that wasn’t undermined by the usual pitfalls that usual ruin these movies. With all of these actors enjoying their roles and accepting the absurdity of their situation, they are able to apply the necessary emotion to each scene and show the audience what they need to see. If there are future movies in this series, I would hope they keep the majority of the cast and crew from Child’s Play, as we’ve seen they can make an enjoyable horror movie that I would be happy to see a sequel to.
Overall Score: 6/10