Its been a while now since Child’s Play has been released and I’ve waited until now to write this review, having just watched it for the second time. Why have I waited so long? On my first watch, I left the cinema feeling a bit conflicted. I know what I had just seen was a decent film that I really couldn’t hate, even though I wanted too, but I also felt a flatness, a kind of “Why?” feeling all over my body. It was then I realised I needed to wait a few weeks, then watch it again, away from the hype surrounding such a release.
Child’s Play 2019 falls into that category. Your love for this remake of the much cherished 1980’s classic with depend on how much you really got out of the still going strong franchise by Don Mancini. Most importantly if you can accept that there are now two different dolls going by the name of Chucky running around, killing out there.
For me personally, I totally love Child’s Play. Every sequel good or bad, holds a special memory within my horror heart. Chucky can sit among the greats of Freddy, Jason,Michael and co, as the bogeymen I want to see return for more carnage and bloodshed. Its the reason that even though Jason himself is trapped in the pits of Camp Crystal Lake, unable to rise because of Studio issues, that fan made films have become so popular over recent years.
If the studio are not making them, then the fans are and entries like the wonderful “Never Hike Alone” has found universal love among the Jason Fan base, simply because it felt and looked like a Friday the 13th film and is now considered “cannon” and we all await for a sequel.
The problem with this new Child’s Play is that it doesn’t feel like a “Chucky” film. I understand that its a remake and things had to be different, but the sheer weight of history rests heavily on its shoulders and for that it struggles to have a voice of its own. I am in agreement with many, that Orion Films should have just made a new “killer doll” horror that could rival a long standing franchise, because if there is room for two Child’s Play films, surely there was room for a new bad killer doll we can all marvel at?
Let’s get the positives out of the way first and believe me, there are a few. The cast is exceptional. Gabriel Bateman is perfect as the new Andy whose new toy is not the “Good Guy” Doll he wants him to be. His relationship with his Mum Karen (Aubrey Plaza) is the entire heartbeat of the film and for that I was totally invested in what I was seeing. I liked them both, so wanted them to survive, which is a huge plus for any horror film.
Mark Hamill is no Brad Dourif, but that’s OK. No one can criticise the voice talents of one of the best Joker’s ever and he really does bring a sort of sympathetic tone to this new version of Chucky.
There are decent kills, the running time is short, it has plenty of pace and its a perfect Friday night Cinema/Rental watch….yes, you can sense a “but” coming…..
Even on second watch, the film fails to honour a franchise and comes across nothing more than a cheap “Cash Grab”. A whole feeling of pointless that you just can’t escape from. There is nothing memorable on offer here that will live long in the memory.
Everyone remembers the “battery” moment in the 1988 film, when Chucky finally comes alive to the shock of not only Catherine Hicks but to us as well. Or the famous scene of “What an Ugly looking Doll” to which Chucky replies “Fuck you?”. Even on the second watch, there is nothing that lasts in the memory, or one scene I can take from it.
Everything seems forced. Trying to appease a fan-base that is already annoyed that they’ve stepped on Mancini’s toes who he himself is currently developing a Child’s Play TV Show. One scene in particular that irritated me more than anything in 2019 is the moment Andy is programming his new toy and tries to give him a name in which the doll replies “Did you say Chucky?” No he didn’t, but if that’s the lazily way you going to introduce the much needed long standing name associated with the franchise then so be it. Yawn!!
Also taking away the essence of what Chucky is makes him less scary. OK! I admit, When has he? But the original franchise was so good at its playful self-awareness on how ridiculous its own plot was, that it really did work. Critics can mock the Child’s Play franchise, but several sequels and a timeline that is outlasting the likes of Halloween and Freddy can not be dismissed and didn’t the playful doll come back to full horror and wide acclaim in the 2014 Curse of Chucky release?
I totally understand the clever sub-plot of how modern technology can cause us damage, but I’d much rather watch a film where a doll is possessed by a serial killer whose trying to get his soul into a kid’s innocent body, than have a throwaway explanation of a disgruntled employee disabling all of the dolls’ safety protocols, before throwing himself off the roof.
There are a few clever build up to the murders. Chucky watching a Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequel and confusing the laughs from the kids watching that “Killing is fun” and there is a cool moment soon after that did tickle my horror bones, but even the new doll’s powers are not exactly used to full effect and the fact his eyes turn red when turning evil, only reminded me of the famous Simpsons episode involving a Krusty doll and a screaming Homer.
Newcomers will no doubt lap up the carnage and the finale is pretty decent for what it does, but for many fans of old, this new Child’s Play will bring feelings equivalent to when you were a child at Christmas in the 80’s and asked for the new Transformer on the market and you what you unwrap instead is a Gobot. It looks the same, but in reality all you have in front of you is a cheap inferior copy…..
2 Hatchets Out of 5