This past week has seen three big movies hit cinema screens – Toy Story 4, Brightburn and Child’s Play. As discussed over the weekend, I was impressed with both Toy Story 4 and Brightburn, giving them high praise indeed, but how does Child’s Play fair?
For those who are unfamiliar with this movie, Child’s Play is a remake of the 1988 slasher film that first introduced the world to Chucky – the killer doll and star of an ongoing horror series. I say “ongoing” because while this new movie is a jumping on point for a new run of films, the original Child’s Play/Chucky series is still going strong.
The previous collection of Chucky movies is not over. In fact, it is shortly set to become a TV series to continue its legacy.
So, if Chucky still has a loyal fanbase, why bother to reboot it?
Money is the reason.
The long and the short of it is that the studio who owned the rights to the original Child’s Play (not the sequels) decided to reboot its property. After 30 odd years it wanted to squeeze some money out of Chucky and so we have been given this new film.
When the reboot was announced, fans were a bit confused and less than thrilled about the idea of there being two different Chuckys. As a Chucky fan myself, I can’t say I was all that interested in the idea of their being two either. I like the original, so why reboot it now?!
But that’s OK I thought, because the film will be bad and it’ll bomb at the box office, so it’s not something that I’ll need to concern myself with, right?
Erm… actually, when Child’s Play opened on Friday it debuted to pretty decent reviews. And having now seen the movie for myself I can honestly say it’s not bad – in fact I really liked it.
Child’s Play 2019 is fun, inventive and wickedly dark. At only 90 minutes long it’s also a movie that zips by without wearing out its welcome.
Now it should be noted that while this is a remake of the ’88 film, this is pretty much a remake in name alone. Oh, the film shares a few similarities with the original, but for the most part this is a contemporary tale for the i-Generation and not a slavish recreation.
The most notable difference is in Chucky himself. This is not the same Chucky we’ve seen before.
While Chucky Mark I was a serial killer whose soul inhabited a doll, this new model is a piece of high-tech A.I. A sort of Siri-al killer if you will.
Chucky Mark II’s motivations are different to the original doll and as such, the tale being told this time around walks a new path. There’s also a different feel to Chucky – he has less personality, making him more of a cold killer rather than the quipping doll we’ve become accustomed to.
The way the film establishes Chucky as a murderer is interesting and provides some food for thought. Questions are posed about our relationship with advancing technology and this ensures there’s plenty of meat on the bone.
But if you’re going to shell out some hard earned cash to watch a Chucky movie you’re probably not in it for the social commentary – you want thrills and kills. Well, the good news is they are in healthy supply too.
This isn’t the most blood thirsty Chucky movie, but when the film serves up the gore it does so in a deliciously dark way. Some scenes are gruesome, others invoke chuckles, but all work well to ensure a balance that audiences have come to expect from a Chucky film.
All of this is backed up by a good cast, in particular Gabriel Bateman who is great as Andy Barclay. This is a young actor who can lead a movie and it shows.
Mark Hamill was also a strong casting choice as the new voice of Chucky. Hamill gives a controlled performance, keeping the doll teetering on the brink of terror throughout.
So, is Child’s Play 2019 as good as the original?
I guess that depends on whether or not you have a deep fondness for that first movie or whether your fondness is simply for the character as a whole. I prefer the original version of Chucky, but I do like this movie.
Had this been a straight-forward remake of Child’s Play ’88 this film would have failed – mostly on the redesign of Chucky alone. However, because this movie makes new choices it elevates the material considerably and presents something worth watching.
Ultimately this is Chucky via Black Mirror. It doesn’t replace the existing series of movies, but it does present an alternate version – a Twilight Zone Chucky if you like – that could start its own franchise.
There could be endless debates on whether or not this movie needed to be a Child’s Play film at all, but that doesn’t change the fact this is an enjoyable horror. I’m interested to see where this version of Child’s Play will go next and how the two different Chuckys will co-exist.
- Thoughts on Brightburn
- What is the best order to watch the Hellraiser movies?
- Clarification on the two Child’s Play projects: Chucky vs Chucky?