The Child’s Play reboot does its job and doesn’t try to be its predecessor

When the Child’s Play reboot was announced many were skeptical. When the first images of Chucky came out that crowd grew. Now that the movie is in theaters though, should you see it?

Count me among the crowd that was initially skeptical when the Child’s Play reboot was announced. Child’s Play is one of the first movies that I remember from my childhood and the fact that I had a “My Buddy” doll did not help. I had many nightmares about Chucky growing up but the doll held a special place in my heart. To me, there was a very slim chance that a reboot would do the series justice.

Then news of the casting of Brian Tyree Henry for the movie and Mark Hamill as Chucky got my attention. The doll was ugly but him being cute wouldn’t exactly help the movie in any way.

Finally, news of the story arrived. They were not going to have Chucky be possessed by a psycho killer but would have him be a form of artificial intelligence gone wrong. I still had my questions but I was intrigued enough. So what was the result?

Child's Play movie photo via EPK.tv

Child’s Play movie photo via EPK.tv

The story

From the very first scene, Child’s Play makes a statement about how much trust we put into the companies that request our information. The Kaslan Corporation plays the role of Amazon in the movie and Buddi is the new toy from the company. An AI toy that syncs to an app on your phone as well as all of the Kaslan products in your home.

Buddi essentially is supposed to be able to operate your house and he adapts to his environment and learns your schedule. Now, since we know this is going to go poorly, we hear this and start to see all of the bad things that could happen, but we allow Alexa the same access already.

From there we go to the factory where Buddi’s are being built and we see why Chucky is able to happen. A worker is told that he is to finish the doll he’s working on and go home, he’s been fired. So, the worker turns off all of the safeguards in the doll’s operating system.

As for Andy (Gabriel Bateman), he’s the only child of a young single mother who is having a hard time adjusting to his new home. Andy still hasn’t unpacked his boxes and is too scared to talk to the other local kids. Buddi helps change that when he comes along. Working at the local Zed Mart, Karen (Aubrey Plaza) gets creative in finding a way to get her son one of the dolls to hopefully help with his adjustment.

Now Andy and his mom know going in that there is something off about this Buddi doll but they don’t realize how bad it is going to get, of course. It doesn’t take long for Buddy to start showing signs and then we just have to wonder who is on his list.

Child's Play movie photo via EPK.tv

Child’s Play movie photo via EPK.tv

The characters

The film does not do Aubrey Plaza any favors and I was worried about the tone in the very beginning. They make Karen a very difficult character to like in the early scenes. She gets better as the movie goes along but the first character that was likable from the first scene was Brian Tyree Henry’s Mike, the friendly cop neighbor.

After Buddy is introduced you start to accept the dynamic between Andy and his mom and as Andy starts to come out of his shell you start to care about him. Nobody cares about him as much as Chucky, but he does make friend with the other kids when they see him playing with his Chucky doll in the hallway, then realize it can cuss.

Falyn and Pugg, played by Beatrice Kitsos and Ty Consiglio respectively, joining the fray is when things start to pick up. They do what you’d expect pre-teen kids to do with a cussing doll and it’s great to see Andy make friends while also watching Chucky slowly learn the behaviors that will make him a killer. All of the kids in the movie are great.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are two real villains. First is Karen’s boyfriend Shane (David Lews), and the other is the superintendent Gabe (Trent Redekop) who you just know is a creeper as soon as you see him. You already don’t like Shane but Child’s Play leaves no doubt in your mind when more about him is revealed as the movie goes on. The same goes for Gabe.

Child's Play movie photo via EPK.tv

Child’s Play movie photo via EPK.tv

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The killings

One thing that wasn’t clear early in the movie was how Chucky would evolve to committing murder and the way the movie handles this was brilliant. Again, Chucky is very aware of his environment so the things you say, the actions you take, and the things you watch around him are all taken in.

A kid complaining about his mom’s boyfriend and watching bloody horror movies in front of him is a good way to lead him down that path. Chucky’s only job is to make Andy happy and he doesn’t fully understand that his actions have consequences until later in the movie.

If you’ve read my horror reviews before you’ll know I’m not a fan of gore and Chucky definitely has some of that. The long drawn out bloody scenes are part of what made the original Chucky what it is and that is the biggest part of the original that makes it to this remake.

Shortcomings

The movie isn’t perfect. Some of the dialogue isn’t great early on and the tone is hard to follow at times. There are funny parts throughout Child’s Play which you have to expect but some of them come out of nowhere.

You’ll be in complete horror mode and then something funny will happen when you aren’t expecting it. This is particularly evident near the end of the movie when one character is stabbed in the neck and is being treated before things become worse in the scene and there is mass chaos. You might even forget he is still in the scene until you see him get finished off a few minutes later.

My least favorite moment, though, is when Brian Tyree Henry’s character refers to Andy and his friends as “millennials” when he himself is actually a millennial and they are not. Huge pet peeve, but I digress.

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Overall

Child’s Play does a great job of changing the story and doing its own thing while still keeping the essential elements intact. You won’t need to have seen the original series to enjoy this, and loving the original won’t make this one more difficult to enjoy either.  It’s a fun scary movie with some great kills (if you’re into that sort of thing.)

Watching Chucky evolve, and devolve was the best part of the film and you have to wonder what will happen when/if there is a sequel. In the meantime, you can add Child’s Play to the list of modern-day adaptations to classic movies that actually work, along with Jumanji.

Child’s Play is currently available in theaters. 

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