Review by J.T. Johnson
In 1988, a cult horror movie was released called “Child’s Play”. It followed a killer doll named Chucky as he terrorized a kid named Andy and his mother Karen. The movie was a hit and spawned four theatrical sequels and two straight-to-video entries. Over time, the movie series became far more humorous than horrifying despite an attempt by the last two films to get back to the series’ horror roots.
Now, Orion Pictures has decided to release an updated take on the original film. Instead of a serial killer who uses voodoo to put his soul into the doll, Chucky (Mark Hamill) is a robot Buddi doll that has an A.I. program that can learn. When a worker is fired where the dolls are made, he tampers with the program of the last doll he was working on and turns off the safety protocols.
Eventually, the doll ends up in the hands of a 13-year-old deaf kid named Andy (Gabriel Bateman) after his mother Karen (Aubrey Plaza) gets it for his birthday. Chucky immediately attaches himself to Andy and becomes his “best friend”. The only problem is that with the safety protocols off, Chucky begins to harm anyone that he perceives as doing harm to Andy.
One thing that is different with this film beyond Chucky’s origins is that you actually feel bad for Chucky at first. He’s like a kid that’s just now learning how to live and the first couple of kills are actually somewhat justified. Eventually, though, Chucky becomes a completely murderous doll that has to got to go.
The movie’s plot is pretty ludicrous, but the filmmakers seemed aware of that because there is also a dark sense of humor that goes along with the movie’s darker moments. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and that’s one of the reasons that it ultimately works. I’ll admit that the original film is better, but this movie is, at the very least, attempting to do its own thing in a more modern, technologically driven world.
I was a little concerned about Hamill being the new voice of Chucky. He is an actor that has an impressive resume of voice acting and I was worried that I might hear too much of Hamill in the character. Thankfully, though, Hamill does a pretty outstanding job in the role, creating a voice that is pretty caring at first before subtly turning into a more menacing voice later on.
The performances from the new cast are pretty great as well. Plaza is great as Karen, the single mother that is trying to cheer her son Andy up since they’ve had to move and Andy’s father is no longer in the picture. Brian Tyree Henry is also a welcomed new addition as Detective Mike Norris, a more sympathetic character right off the bat than Chris Sarandon’s version was in the original movie.
As far as the scares are concerned, I’ll admit that there is more of a chilling tone than jump scares, but when the jump scares do happen, they are effective. I should warn you, though, that if you’re not a fan of gory horror films, then this one may not be for you as there are some pretty gruesome moments.
Finally, there is the design of the new Chucky doll. I must admit that I’m a bigger fan of the original design than the new Buddi version. However, as the film progressed, the design of the new doll grew on me and I also want to commend the film for using mostly animatronics and practical effects to bring the new Chucky to life.
Yes, I’m sure the purists out there will hate this remake, but they were going to hate it anyway. I’ll even admit that I still prefer the original film over this one. However, going into the film with an open mind, I found that I enjoyed the dark humor, the chilling tone, the cast and Hamill’s performance in this new take on an old horror icon. If you can disconnect from the original film and watch this solely on its own, I think that you might be surprised by how much you enjoy the new “Child’s Play”.