Remakes are becoming a big thing again, with Disney leading the pack with the outpouring of live action remakes/updates of their popular animated features and making big money because of them, we find that other companies that aren’t producing Superhero movies or something else that is actually watchable; are jumping onto the remake bandwagon hoping to find that next big franchise to make millions off of… Except in horror where remakes really don’t work.
Title: Child’s Play
Production Company: Orion Pictures & KatzSmith Productions
Distributed by: United Artists Releasing
Directed by: Lars Klevberg
Produced by: David Katzenberg & Seth Grahame-Smith
Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Gabriel Bateman, Brian Tyree Henry & Mark Hamill
Based on: Child’s Play by Don Mancini
Release dates: June 21, 2019 (Worldwide)
Running time: 90 minutes
Rating: R (United States) / MA15+ (Australia)
Multinational Kaslan Corporation has just launched Buddi, a revolutionary line of high-tech dolls, quickly becoming a success for children worldwide. At a Buddi assembly factory in Vietnam, an employee is fired by his supervisor for insufficient work. In retaliation, the employee manipulates the doll that he is assembling, disabling all of its safety features, before committing suicide. The doll is packed alongside others in preparation for international delivery.
In Chicago, retail clerk Karen Barclay and her 13-year-old hearing-impaired son Andy moves into their new apartment, where Karen encourages her son to make new friends while she works to prepare for his upcoming birthday. In an attempt to cheer Andy up and make up for the unease cause by the moving, as well as the presence of her new boyfriend Shane, Karen blackmails her boss in order to procure a Buddi doll, introducing it to Andy as an early birthday gift. Once Andy activates the doll, it names itself Chucky and becomes attached to Andy. Over time, Chucky helps Andy befriend two other children in the building, Falyn and Pugg, but also begins to display violent tendencies. He strangles the Barclays’ hostile pet cat after it scratches Andy, and one night, while Andy and his friends gleefully watch a horror film, Chucky starts mimicking the violence on the screen, approaching the trio with a kitchen knife, before Andy disarms him.
Andy arrives home the next day to find that his cat is dead; Chucky admits to murdering it so that it would not hurt him anymore. Karen locks the doll in a closet, but he escapes and further terrorizes Shane, which leads him to confront Andy. After overhearing Andy’s pleas for Shane to disappear, Chucky follows him home, where it is revealed that Shane has a family and has been having an affair with Karen behind his wife’s back. While Shane is outside taking down Christmas lights, Chucky frightens him into falling from the ladder, breaking both of his legs. Chucky activates a tiller which scalps and kills him. The following day, Chucky delivers Shane’s skinned face as a gift to a horrified Andy.
While police detective Mike Norris begin an investigation, Andy, Falyn and Pugg decide to disable Chucky and dispose of him in the garbage. Building voyeur and electrician Gabe finds the doll and takes him to the building’s basement to prepare him for online sale. Now fully repaired, Chucky tortures and murders Gabe with a table saw. After making his way back to ground level, Chucky ends up in possession of another kid in the building, Omar, and proceeds to kill Mike’s mother, Doreen, in a self-controlled car accident. Meanwhile, Andy fails to convince Karen that Chucky has become murderous, and she takes Andy along to her next shift at the shopping mall where she works in order to keep him nearby.
Suspecting that Andy is the killer, Mike travels to the mall and apprehends him just as Chucky takes full control of the building. Chaos is unleashed as several employees and customers are brutally killed by self-controlled Buddi dolls and other hacked toys, while Chucky triggers the mall’s lockdown sequence. Mike is wounded amid the massacre, and Andy and his friends manage to reach the exit, only for Andy forced to return when Chucky reveals that he is holding Karen hostage, planning to kill her. Andy manages to free his mother while being attacked by Chucky, before overpowering and defeating the doll with help of Karen and Mike. While paramedics tend Karen, Mike and other survivors, Andy and the rest of his friends destroy Chucky’s lifeless body in a nearby alleyway.
In the aftermath of Chucky’s killing spree, Kaslan Corporation CEO Henry Kaslan issues a statement regarding Chucky’s programming, and as more Buddi dolls are shown being recalled and placed into storage, one starts malfunctioning inside its box.
- Gabriel Bateman as Andy Barclay, a 13-year-old deaf kid with a hearing aid who comes into the possession of Chucky, a murderous Buddi doll.
A lot of the issues I have with this version of the movie comes from this one casting. Andy as an early teenager just doesn’t work with the idea of a killer doll, a children’s toy. Even the character says in the movie that he is too old for it at first, but when he finds he is just too lonely, it’s then that there is a bond with the two. But then it doesn’t work since the age thing is still there through the rest of the film. Hell, he treats Chucky as a joke (just like the film makers) with his friends until Chucky kills the cat. Even then things don’t seem worth investing in since he’s a teenager who can act with more brains than a child could. Bateman does his best with the character here but he just comes off as a sour teenager instead of someone we need to worry about. Plus there was no killer one liner like there was in the original, which sucks.
- Mark Hamill as the voice of Chucky, a once-harmless Buddi doll transformed into a bloodthirsty killing machine after suffering a system failure.
Poor Mark Hamill, guy just can’t get a break these days. After having his legacy pissed all over with blue milk in The Last Jedi, the man with the golden voice comes into a role that he so wanted to make his but ended up being held back by a studio that couldn’t do what should be done (more on that later below). Hamill’s Chucky isn’t really so much as creepy in voice as it is in just poor. Yet in the credits, you hear Hamill give a proper performance that made me scream at the screen: “Where the fuck was THAT performance Hamill!?” Seriously, this is the voice of THE JOKER here; one of the legendary character voices ever to grace the small or big screen. I wonder about a few small things here as we all know that Hamill can do one hell of a creepy voice when required to, but I think there might have been some studio restriction here that stopped him from going all out and really giving us something truly terrifying. Through most of the movie the voice Hamill provides is just droning and almost monotone, but it is childish enough that you can see that the doll is nothing more than a small child learning it’s place in the world. But I think more emotion would have made for a better Chucky than a deadpan robot. Really, what was the point of hiring Hamill if his performance is something you could have gotten out of anyone with auto-tune.
- Aubrey Plaza as Karen Barclay, Andy’s widowed single mother who hardly believes her son that Chucky is responsible for the murders.
If there is anyone who needs an award for being in this movie it’s Aubrey Plaza. Her performance as the loving mother/friend and tortured partner is one of those performances that really belong in the Oscar winning category. When she is shattered due to the abuse she and Andy suffers at the hands of Shane, you really want to come to her defense and kick the dickhead in the balls. She also shows that as a young mother, she still has some free spirit and light hearted nature to her life in brief moments she gets with Andy and also her co-workers at the Wal-Mart knock off store she works at. But at the same time there is the expect Plaza sass that we’ve come to know and love her for too, especially later in the movie or when she needs to stand up for herself. But she is more emotional here than she usually plays and that works really well in her favor here.
- Brian Tyree Henry as Detective Mike Norris, a detective investigating a mysterious string of murders.
It’s hard to really say much about Detective Norris here since for most of the film he doesn’t really do anything except get abused by his mother, who lives in the same apartment building as Andy. But once the murders come into play thanks to Chucky, then Detective Norris gets his time in the spotlight by doing his job. However there isn’t really much more to his character other than he is a cop and his mother is just an annoying mother to him. There is some hints of a darker past given through the movie but nothing about it gets followed through nor explained, which makes me wonder if the best bits about Detective Norris are sitting somewhere on the cutting room floor waiting for a Bluray release.
- Beatrice Kitsos as Falyn, one of Andy’s new friends
Falyn is one of those “must have” type females in the movies these days. Brave as all hell, quick with a sassy comeback and will drop a boy at anytime… You know, a Captain Marvel type. Kitsos does well with the role and almost takes a sadistic glee in every moment she gets to stand above not only her cohort in Pugg and sorta rival Omar, but also Andy. Taking charge early in the finale battle only to be pushed out to allow Andy to finally get his moments in. I swear in the third act it was written like Falyn was meant to be the main lead the whole way and only backed down after the studio remembered that they were doing a remake and needed Andy to finish the movie.
- Ty Consiglio as Pugg, one of Andy’s new friends.
Pugg is one of those characters who is just there… He’s big, dumb and likes horror movies. The End. Honestly I couldn’t tell you much more about him since he has no backstory and no character development. The most he does for the movie is show Texas Chainsaw Massacre in front of Chucky so the robot learns about killing someone while making one liners. Other then that, Consiglio is there to be the big dumb coward friend.
- Marlon Kazadi as Omar, a neighbor of Andy and one of his new friends.
The third “friend” Andy makes in the film, and I use the term friend loosely. It’s more like he is that kid who puts up with Andy because his other friends bring him around to the group. So instead of friend he is more of an age appropriate nemesis for Andy. Omar is a little shit who bullies Andy at every opportunity, and Chucky too since he comes off as a malfunctioning robot. Once Omar gets his own Buddi doll he suddenly loves the whole concept and defends it against Andy (who knows it’s Chucky). A really unneeded character except for yet another person to heap shit upon Andy.
- David Lewis as Shane, Karen’s boyfriend who is mean and abusive towards Andy because of his deafness.
Talk about total douchebag. This guy is everything about the abusing asshole boyfriend trope, then we get the even worse addition of the cheating husband trope on top of that. Hell, all he needs is a mustache to twirl and he’d be a bigger villain than the killer doll this movie is meant to be about. Lewis just reeks of everything wrong with an abusive piece of shit the character is. As someone who has memories of an abusive Step-Father in the past, I can relate to Andy when he get bullied and pushed around by this piece of shit like this. The only drawback to this great performance is that while the death he gets is well worth what he did to earn it, it ends on a joke which spoils the whole thing.
- Trent Redekop as Gabe, the voyeurist electrician of the building.
You want creepy, then this guy is creepy. From the moment you see him installing camera and looking with lust for Plaza’s Karen character, you know he is up to something creepy. When the reveal happens and you find out how creepy he really is, it’s the one death where you are actually cheering for Chucky to do his worst, and that is delivered upon in a great way that would make you SAW loving gore hounds happy in the pants. While Redekop doesn’t get much to do with the character except be creepy, he has a more memorable performance than most of the C-List characters in this film.
- Carlease Burke as Doreen Norris, Norris’ mother and neighbor of the Barclays.
A small highlight here is Burke as Detective Norris’ mother Doreen. While she is the typical disappointed mother figure to her son, she has such a wholesome worldview that you can’t help but enjoy each time she gets in the spotlight. As someone who still wonders at technology, her amusement at getting a Kaplan Kar (the movie’s version of Uber) is awesome and you feel sorry when she does get killed for saying she is Andy’s new best friend. A wonderful but fleeting character who didn’t deserve the fate she got.
Ok, I’m going to admit that yes this did frighten me a bit. There were times where I looked away from the screen before an obvious jump scare of something extremely gruesome was going to happen. But that’s it. And yes, the new design of Chucky with those wide anime eyes and grin did give me chills too. For something that is a “modern horror remake” Child’s Play isn’t a bad film. The frights are there for younger and less exposed horror fans; and it also keeps things from getting too serious so not to scare all the young snowflakes that attend these things then go online and bitch about how scary it was. (Bitches please, you wouldn’t have lasted a second in the 1980s Golden Age of horror.) And honestly, the message about how easily technology can be used for nefarious purposes in the connected age is pretty much on the nose too, something that really needed to be done in any medium these days. But that’s about it. Child’s Play is just another remake of a much better horror franchise that didn’t need a reboot and it’s hard to find anything positive to speak about something that has no soul… Just like this Chucky.
*Cracks Knuckles* Now where do I begin?
Let’s start with the biggest problem I have with this film: Modern Horror. Yeah it’s something you might not really notice unless you are a long time horror fan or have someone with you who is a horror expert (Like I do with my Fiance Rachael) and that is that modern horror isn’t just all that scary. Today film makers are too restricted with what they can and can’t do on the screen, leaving a product that just pales in comparison to the marvels of yester-year. With Child’s Play it was less about a killer doll than the “evils of technology” as I mentioned before. The main thing isn’t that Chucky is a doll that was possessed by the spirit of a serial killer like in the original, which gave the doll meaning, purpose and free will to be creative and make choices. In this version, the whole thing comes about because of an assembly line worker who was fired from his job by an asshole of a boss and this was his means to get revenge on the company that fired him… Before taking his own life, so no actual benefit there. I know the whole thing with this Chucky is that he is more like a child, imitating and learning from the people around him. This doesn’t make him creepy or dangerous, it just makes him boring and stupid. The formula for this was that if you hurt Andy or wanted to be his friend, then you must be eliminated: A programming error… Ugh, I just hate that it’s a program that’s “evil” this time, and it takes all the fun out of things.
Speaking of taking the fun out of this, I’m going to elaborate on what might have happened with Mark Hamill and the two very different versions of the voice we hear in the film. I think that what we heard in the end credits where Hamill sings a very creepy, almost Joker-like, version of “The Buddi Song” which sounds awesome (Think the same rendition of “Only You” from the Arkham video game series. Nice and creepy, almost nightmare inducing). But that version of the voice was not what the studio wanted since they were afraid of any lawsuit action from Don Mancini (the original creator and current director/producer of the Chucky series since day one) or Universal Studios (Who own the rights to all Child’s Play films from Child’s Play 2 through Curse of Chucky), so they told Hamill to tone things back a bit, strip all emotion out of the character and keep it easy to run through auto-tune. And that’s the biggest issue here, it’s that this remake could only do so much without summoning the lawyers to their doorstep… and it shows.
Another thing that really pulled me out of the film was Andy himself. Rewriting the role from an 8 year old child to a 13 year old teenager really made things seem stupid. With the original Andy you wanted to protect the kid and it was easier to dismiss what he was saying as just something Andy imagined. In this version, the Andy we have here is already too old for the doll, didn’t really want it till he was too lonely to even attempt to make friends in his local area, and once he did, then he didn’t need Chucky at all. If there was a period of time passing and the two started younger and the doll’s programming corrupted over time to create the attachment to Andy and then the abandonment for real friends caused the programming to go crazy, then you’d have a movie worth watching. But nope, this whole thing happens inside of a week in movie time. Which leads into another issue: Logical Fallacy. Once scene that annoys Rachael was when Chucky put Shaun’s head onto a watermellon and left it as a gift for Andy. Logically speaking, even after a couple of days, that skin would begin to rot and smell; so no one noticed the rotting skin at all… DUMB!!
I’m sorry that given a lot of people are giving this thing a free pass since it’s the return of a beloved classic, and it’s from the producers of the critically acclaimed “IT” remake; but I’m not giving it that chance. I’m standing with Don Mancini, Jennifer Tilly, Alex Vincent, Brad Dourif and Fiona Dourif in stating that this is just #NotMyChucky. This thing, whatever you want to call it is nothing more than a hollow shell of a movie that was trying to ride the independent rise and return of the 1980’s serial killer doll that got a much better treatment in recent years thanks to films like Curse of Chucky and Cult of Chucky. Hell, the Chuckster said it himself: “Don’t fuck with the Chuck” and that is just what happened here… At least it’s not as bad as Chucky’s appearance to promote Bride of Chucky and getting into an argument with Rick Steiner on WCW Nitro; so that’s saying something. It could be worse.
They fucked with the Chuck
Child’s Play 2019 is a soulless remake that was only made because it was cheap to do and all the hype was already done for the studio thanks to much better films involving the killer doll already being made in recent years. I don’t know what is worse, the idea behind why Chucky is a killer or Mark Hamill taking another beating in a classic role we know he should be doing much better in.
- Creepy looking Doll
- Aubery Plaza is a highlight in a very droll cast
- Some kills are worthy of watching more than once
- Mark Hamill not being allowed to do the role justice
- Restraint to avoid a lawsuit
- Borders on Bride/Seed of Chucky levels of terrible at times