The remake of Child's Play is gory fun but missing one vital element
JOE's review of the horror remake is here.
The original 1988 version of Child's Play had an INCREDIBLY dark plot, involving a serial killer who uses voodoo to put his soul into the body of a doll, which winds up in the hands of a young boy, who then becomes the prime suspect for all the killings that are taking place whenever he's around. Also, the serial killing doll wants to voodoo his soul into the young boy before he's stuck in the body of the doll forever.
Like we said, daaaaaaark.
For the remake, a lot of that darkness and edge has been sanded down, and the video nasty vibe of the original has become a perfectly serviceable but mostly forgettable slasher.
This time around, a disgruntled employee at the toy factory turns all of the safety protocols off for one particular doll, which crosses paths with struggling single mother (Aubrey Plaza - Parks & Rec), who then gifts it to her smart-but-lonely son Andy (Gabriel Bateman - Lights Out).
The updated version of Chucky is basically a walking, talking Alexa, capable of connecting to everything electric in your home via WiFi, and with his safetys off, he becomes very protective of his new owner, to the point where bodies begin to stack up and the friendly neighbour detective (Brian Tyree Henry - Atlanta) begins to suspect there is a young psychopath in the building.
It is a pretty decent set-up for a modern remake, making the new Chucky (perfectly voiced by Mark Hamill) more capable for his kills, and he puts these new powers to good use for his nefarious purposes, resulting in some fun, gruesome kills, including a highlight involving a heating pipe and a broken buzzsaw.
However, and here comes the problem, the film fails entirely on being in any way scary.
There is one scene early in the movie where Andy is woken in the middle of the night by a cat meowing, only to find that Chucky is watching him sleep, playing a recording of their now-dead cat from a dark corner of the room. It is creepy and weird and frightening.
Had the movie tried to hit that note more often, a little subtler and a bit more psychological and maybe actually played with the idea that Andy really is doing these terrible things, then there would be a lot more fear to work with. Instead, what begins as something with great horror potential, soon degrades into the schlocky comedy-horror of the later-day Chucky sequels where he became a walking pun-machine with knives.
So, yes, fun. Gory, sure! But horror fans will likely be disappointed.
Child's Play hits Irish cinemas on Friday 21 June.
Clip via Orion Pictures