When a 10 year old autistic child accidently befriends a creature from the “other side”, his family fight to keep him safe in Jacob Chase’s delightful feature debut!….
Putting a child in danger in a horror movie always gives the film an advantage as it immediately puts the audience on the side of the youngster in danger and while Come Play doesn’t really offer anything new to an established formula, it brings its own unique style to make it one of 2021’s must watch horror movies.
The fact that Jacob Chase in his directing debut wastes no time in establishing the plot with virtually the danger taking place from the off, means you are sucked into the story straight away and to be honest, you really can’t take your eyes off it.
Spun from his very own five minute short story titled “Larry” which is freely available on YouTube, Chase enhances the formula to at times stunning effect with some great horror imagery that will leave a lasting impression and a huge suggestion that he is a new horror director on the path of greatness.
The plot itself is centred on Oliver ((Azhy Robertson) a 10 year old autistic child who is a loner, comfortable in his bedroom and surroundings with a mobile phone in his hand that has Spongebob Squarepants on repeat watch. Unable to communicate vocally, an app on his phone helps him to communicate to his mother and father who are on the brink of separation with Oliver more closer to his Dad Marty (John Gallagher Jr.)and unable to look his own Mum in the eye to the frustration of Sarah (Gillian Jacobs).
We quickly get into impending danger heading Oliver’s way when his smartphone displays a children’s story called Misunderstood Monsters, about a lonely creature named Larry in which the young boy quickly taps and starts to read. The feeling of dread immediately hits Oliver and us the viewer as the story establishes that Larry just wants “a friend” and soon Oliver is hiding under his bed sheets while his wardrobe door starts to shake and the handle turns slowly.
As the spooky going’s on escalates with both Mum and Dad denial, Chase uses some brilliant camera skills to build a much needed suspense that loads of horror films fail to generate. By using modern technology (something which HOST managed to do to great effect), helps the film massively with some stunning set-pieces that you can only marvel at.
A face recognition app to mark Larry’s presence, to even the use of blowing newspaper in the wind adds to the creepiness and when a stunning set-piece involving a kids sleepover adds to the quality on show, then you just know that Chase is delivering on the goods here.
Larry himself is a great bogeyman, shown in fleeting moments, yet surrounded by the sound of broken bones as he moves with lightbulbs either exploding or going out to highlight his nearby presence.
Robertson is sensational as the young boy desperately trying to evade the clutches of this monster and while the film swifts from horror to a family drama towards the finale, the poignant climax will leave a bitter haunting of sadness that if you have a child yourself, you may grab an extra cuddle off them as what Come Play proves is that there is nothing more powerful than family love…..