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Review: ‘Child’s Play’ Takes a Stab at Reinventing a Cult Classic

June 21, 2019Ben MK

Amongst all of the '80s horror icons, few have had the staying power of Chucky, that demonic doll inhabited by the soul of a psychopathic serial killer. For while other antiheroes may have faded into obscurity, Chucky has endured through six sequels over 31 years and counting.

Enter Child's Play, a remake from Norwegian director Lars Klevberg that reimagines Chucky (voiced by Mark Hamill) not as a doll possessed, but rather as a smart home device gone awry. Created by a company called Kaslan Industries as a means of controlling all of their other consumer devices, the Buddi doll is a self-learning hub that comes complete with his own smartphone app. But when one doll is shipped from a Kaslan manufacturing facility with all of its safety protocols disabled, it sets the stage for a murderous rampage.

Inevitably, said Buddi doll ends up in the unwitting hands of 13-year-old Andy (Gabriel Bateman), whose mother Karen (Aubrey Plaza) has gifted it to him for his birthday. Soon enough, however, the doll starts to form an unhealthy and undeniably creepy attachment to its new owner. Adopting the name Chucky, it doesn't take long for the doll to pick up homicidal tendencies. Even worse, it begins to viciously act them out on everyone, from Karen's jerk of a boyfriend to the kindly old neighbor down the hall.

Unlike the 1988 version, Chucky's method of choosing his victims isn't quite as indiscriminate. Instead, his criteria seems to be whether they've either hurt Andy or have made themselves an obstacle to Chucky in his quest to become Andy's bestest bud. And in that respect, that arguably makes this Chucky's motivations surprisingly noble, or at least more noble than in the original — though they're most certainly misguided, to say the least.

As for Chucky's methods of dispatching of his victims, they're shockingly gory and involve everything from heavy duty gardening equipment to a table saw, and even a self-driving car. However, they're also too few and far between, a fact that's not helped by the film's awkward pacing. Suffice to say, by the time we finally get to see Chucky let loose, most viewers will have already grown too impatient or be too bored to care.

Child's Play releases June 21st, 2019 from Elevation Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of R for bloody horror violence, and language throughout. Its runtime is 1 hr. 28 min.

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