Child's Play (2019) follows a young mother (Aubrey Plaza) who gives her son a toy doll with an artificial intelligence and the capability to interact with smart technologies. When the doll's failsafes malfunction, it begins to show signs of homicidal tendencies. The son, Andy, must then stop his killer toy Chucky before he kills everyone he cares about.
Child's Play (2019) Review
I feel like most people know what they're getting into with a Chucky movie. The franchise has been on a sharp decline, arguably, since the second installment, though admittedly I find the third to be quite entertaining. When Chucky decided to go full-blown horror comedy with his self-titled affairs, things went from bad to worse. At least Curse of Chucky and Cult of Chucky tried to instill a bit of fear into the audience, though the quality of the films left much to be desired.
This remake breaks the trend, giving a fresh perspective on the infamous horror icon, while bringing back the macabre humor, genuine plot development, and self-aware campiness of the originals. Yes, I said plot development. The first film spends a good majority of its screentime with Chucky trying to find a way out of his predicament. And this film does the same with its broken AI twist.
Yes, the "technology will be our undoing" plot is becoming a cinematic trope as jaded as the horror remake...ahem...but when put into context with the Chucky doll, it makes for a fun change of pace. I can't say that this killer tech take is any more or less unique than anything Black Mirror has done [better], but for a horror remake, it's arguably created something never done before, that is to say create a controversy within its originality within the reboot.
The greatest controversy coming out of the film isn't whether or not it was good, but whether or not it should have been a remake at all. This remake brings about a massive change in the approach to Chucky's origin story. Gone are the days of a doll possessed by the soul of a serial killer. Now, it's a malfunctioning artificial intelligence. So...is this complete shift so much of a break from the source material that it warrants its own name and franchise ala Annabelle? Or is it still at its core a Chucky film?
My argument is that it's a reboot, just a successful one. Too often we've seen remakes lazily copying the source material, sometimes scene-for-scene or line-for-line, and simply "improving" on it with better cameras and weak CG. This remake actually set out to achieve something different while using the "remake" term to more-so plant easter eggs and homage to the original film. We still have Andy and his mom, the Buddi/Good Guy doll, the detective (played in the remake by scene-stealer Brian Tyree Henry), and the creepy voice (now by the uber voice talent of Mark Hamill). But now, there is enough of a twist on the plot to give the crowd a good dose of 'member berries and still get a fresh take.
Child's Play is by no means perfect. It may not make a top-10 horror films of the year list. Nor does it boast anything special in its craft or execution for the most part. But, it utilizes the technology angle to give us some tragic character development and fun scares, making good use of the the theater's surround sound. It was a great self-aware popcorn flick that succeeded at simply being an entertaining horror remake that never took itself too seriously.
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 9/10
Horror Quality: 7/10
Film Quality: 5/10