A Review of Child’s Play by Ahmed Zayani
I have a confession to make; for as big of a horror fiend that I consider myself to be today, I couldn’t handle the genre during my younger years. Films such as The Exorcist, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, The Omen, and Night of the Living Dead terrified me to no end and resulted in many a sleepless night. While you may question the wisdom of watching such films at a young age, the chills and thrills back then did help fester my love for horror. With that said, there was one film series that scared the ever-loving-bejezus out of me, and it was from the Child’s Play franchise. Right from my first exposure to the franchise during elementary school, I was enamoured. The concept of a possessed killer doll was one that stimulated my imagination and fuelled my nightmares for days on end. Through the years, the series has gone through many iterations – the grounded original trilogy, the Franken-Chucky tongue in cheek reboot, and the straight to DVD sequels that found a comfortable middle ground. Whatever the iteration was, there was always a sense of excitement when a new Child’s Play film was announced, and I for one consider them to be a highlight on my cinematic calendar.
Directed by Lars Klevberg, Child’s Play is a remake of the Tom Holland classic and tells the story of Andy Barclay (played by the Gabriel Bateman) whose mother (played by Aubrey Plaza) gifts him one of the most coveted toys of the season for his birthday – a Buddi doll named Chucky (voiced by the legendary Mark Hamill). What starts off as a gift of love slowly turns into a horrible reality as Chucky begins to unravel and blur the line between good and bad. Now lets get one thing straight – this remake, or better yet, reinterpretation, of Child’s Play is a good movie. Any doubts or concerns that I may have had beforehand were washed away by the time the lights came up after my screening last weekend. The script was excellently realized with director Lars Klevberg showing that he is more than capable of handling a project of this scale. Hell, I’ll even go beyond and say that he did a better job than series mainstay Don Mancini did with Cult of Chucky. The effects at play were also top notch, with this horror fiend appreciating all the practical effects used that honestly added to the proceedings. I also thought the acting was en pointe with relative newcomer Gabriel Bateman handling the lead role with comfort and ease, while Aubrey Plaza demanded both my attention and affection on screen. As usual, Mark Hamill was the highlight. While he may not make anyone forget Brad Dourif’s iconic voice work, Hamill did put his own unique spin on the character and brought depth to what could easily have been a one-note character. The man proved his worth as one of the best voice actors working today.
All that said, the film did have a few issues. Namely, its association with the original series. Had this film not been called and marketed as a Child’s Play sequel, I truly believe that it would’ve fared much better at the hands of the critics. I believe that this film has enough unique elements and ideas that it could’ve stood on its own two feet without relying on an existing franchise. Alas the studio must have seen value in the IP and logically sought to take advantage of it. It’s a shame really as this opens the movie up to unfair comparisons to the original, which it does not live upto. Additionally, the film’s reinterpretation of the Chucky doll looks downright ugly and nothing short of being a complete eyesore. It truly is baffling to me as to why they would play around with Chucky’s iconic look to the point that this looks like a bargain basement knockoff rather than a reinvention. It says a lot when the doll used for the movie thirty years ago was more aesthetically pleasing than its modern day equivalent.
However, Child’s Play is an admirable remake that I thoroughly enjoyed. I would’ve preferred this to be a standalone film that did not have any relation to the 1988 classic, but as it is, the film is still a worthy watch.
Verdict – 6.5/10
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