‘Child’s Play’ becomes your new best friend with gore-filled fun

Noah Levine

Alexa, please don’t kill me. 

“Child’s Play” is a reimagining of the 1988 horror classic of the same name. The remake, helmed by director Lars Klevberg, revolves around the bloodshed that surrounds a single mother (Aubrey Plaza) and her son (Gabriel Bateman) after he receives an artificial intelligence-enabled toy (voiced by Mark Hamill). The film succeeds in its ability to reinvent the source material and bring to life a fun, yet morbid, tale of friendship and parenting.

The cast anchors “Child’s Play.” Bateman plays Andy, an independent teen who’s acclimating to his new life after moving. He portrays the character very honestly and adds a witty charm to this rendition of Andy by speaking his mind and displaying a strong bond with his single mother.
Plaza is a scene-stealer as Andy’s mother. She’s going through the motions, doing whatever it takes to support her son, yet has an irresistible edge that works well comedically. She comfortably embraces her situation and even pokes fun at it. The two characters work well together, creating a heartfelt mother-son pairing that adds a backbone to
their arcs. 

The supporting cast is sufficient as well, with Brian Tyree Henry playing a reassuring detective and David Lewis playing a cheating boyfriend who practically begs people to hate him. Hamill taps into his creepier side with his voicework for Chucky himself. It’s not quite the iconic dialect of Brad Dourif, but it certainly is unsettling in the way it borders the line that separates cute from menacing. Absolutely wonderful puppeteering work aids his performance by emphasizing the uncanniness of a lifelike
moving doll. 

While the original film depicted Chucky as a once-immobile doll that becomes possessed by a serial killer, the remake grounds the story further into reality. Chucky is an artificially intelligent “Buddi” toy programmed to move, talk and monitor other technology connected to cloud storage. By allowing Chucky to be lifelike from the start, the film is able to play a bit more with the concept of having a doll as a best friend. Surprisingly, it recalls shades of Steven Spielberg’s “E.T.” and makes for some cute and heartfelt sequences between Andy and the mobile Chucky.

Once things turn evil, Andy and his gang of friends work together to stop the killer doll. There’s lots of dark humor, and the film practically oozes blood. The finale will certainly put a guilty smile on any horror
fan’s face. 

Something that the film struggles with is the way it attempts to present Chucky’s morality. At first, the doll’s hit list comprises horrible people, so there’s a bit of a guilty pleasure in seeing them dismembered. But he targets a few innocents who are killed for pure shock value. Yes, this is a slasher film where good people die, but when many of the main characters killed are bad people, the killing of a morally innocent character feels like a tonal shift. 

“Child’s Play” isn’t trying to be the next arthouse film or a revolutionary horror flick that takes large strides to convey a powerful message. It’s simply a deliciously gory, fun and diabolical tale that serves as a reminder of how technology is evolving
frighteningly fast.