Tyler Burton Smith (screenplay by), Don Mancini (based on characters created by)
After a number of sequels, the original 1988 horror classic CHILD’S PLAY gets a reboot with the same title following a high tech doll that rejects its programming and becomes self aware.
Director Lars Olevberg and the script by Tyler Burton Smith play it smart by combining the elements of camp and horror in what turns out to be a fast-moving totally entertaining reboot. The film proves tat camp and scares can work extremely well together. CHILD’S PLAY delivers what is expected and more.
The film opens in Kaslan Industry’s Vietnam factory that makes these big tech dolls. A Vietnamese worker goofs off and is slapped awake by his supervisor. Angrily, he removes all the doll’s control inhibition functions on the chip before inserting it into the doll. It is comical to see see and hear Vietnamese in a horror film done tongue-in-cheek and it works. The doll is eventually sold in the States but the customer returns this defective doll to a Zed-Mart worker, who is a single mother (Aubrey Plaza). Instead of returning the doll to the factory gives, she gives it as a birthday person to her son, Andy. This is when the trouble starts. Chucky, the doll starts having a life of his own and in his desperation of keeping Andy as a friend, does away with those that annoy Andy beginning with the family cat.
Director Olevberg does not skimp on the blood and gore as in the lawnmower scene. But the segment can be taken tongue-in-cheek as in the one whee the kids are laughing out loud as bodies are being dismembered, while watching THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE on the television. There is a hidden message here in how Americans, typically American kids have been dis-sanitized from violence in films.
More camp comes in the form of the excellent ‘Buddi’ theme song, which is also played for laughs during the film’s closing credits. Chucky also has dialogue “Are we having fun yet?” or “Is it time to play again?” to creep audiences out.
Aubrey Plaza is one of the funniest actresses around who frequently inhabits roles of loose women as evident in THE NUNS and BAD GRANDPA. In CHILD’S PLAY, she plays a young single mother (who in he own words had a fertile sweet sixteen) has a kid who also catches her making out when entering the apartment one day. Gabriel Bateman is also excellent as Andy Barclay the son, but one would think they would have got a younger actor to play the part. This Andy looks too old to be receiving a toy doll for his birthday, though it may be argued that this one has all the modern controls to turn on the stereo etc.
It is coincidental that TOY STORY 4 also opens this week both with the boy also called Andy. These are two films about toys – one for family and the other for horror fans, which make the perfect counter-programming market strategy.