Film Review – Child’s Play (2019)

A likeable single mother with toxic taste in men acquires a dysfunctional model of a Buddi doll for her surly son Andy. As the electronic moppet soaks up the rank stimuli of contemporary America he degenerates into a demon-eyed double douche bag in dungarees.

The legend of Chucky stretches over 3 decades with 7 films and an upcoming T.V. show and it is fair to say the murderous doll is one of the most enduring and enshrined characters in the horror icon canon. It is inevitable that this darker reshaping of his mythology will provoke a rapid dash to the nearest butt-hurt clinic for a large section of his fanbase. So many people are going to get triggered instead of taking a deep breath and sitting back to soak in the lively and inventive mischief.

Yes, reboots are generally a soulless cash grab but this movie has a big goofy heart that seeks to do no more than to unleash a pacy bang for your bucks mainstream horror experience.

Yes, a carbon copy retread would have been pointless but this flick has lots of new things to say and tries its little socks off to do so without boiling the collective piss of precious Chucky fans.

Yes, the trailer was a hot garbage fire that was voted trashiest trailer at the golden trailer awards but the flick as a whole is a charming reminder of what we used to love about late 80’s horror movies.

Yes, Chucky looks different and there is no Brad Dourif but the doll effects are mostly practical and always effective and Mark Hamill’s restrained voice performance is a refreshing revision.

Yes, the original is a warm fuzzy horror memory and change is hard but this unabashed midnight flick is gorier, funnier and better made than the original.

This audacious modernisation of a stedfast horror institution is more of a smart tweaking than a reboot and definitely more of an upgrade than a defilement. Some Genre fans will simply refuse to see past the reimagining of Chucky’s back story. However, the ballsy move to jettison the preposterous voodoo shenanigans opens up rich pickings for genuinely humorous and often biting social satire.

Tyler Burton Smith’s sparklingly savvy script is right on point with pop culture references old and new. He certainly seems to be relishing the chance to embellish Chucky’s infamy rather than perform a paint by numbers hack job. Some of the visual and verbal callbacks are pure horror fan joy. From Han Solo and Tupac to Texas Chainsaw Massacre II and E.T, the high level of audience engagement and in-joke meta-fuckery is fabulous fun.

In terms of special effects, there is earthily practical splattery gore to furbish the throwback vibe and pleasing old school animatronics to augment the emotional chemistry.

The film really does fall over itself to be intergenerational and connect with a wide spectrum of cinema-goers, and as broad and obvious as some of the mechanics are it certainly succeeds. Most of the unsettling jokes land gracefully, the jump scares are popcorn launching and one of the death scenes initiated a cathartic eruption of applause at my screening. It makes for a great date movie, a trip out for some nostalgia-laced cinematic comfort food or simply a straight up authentic horror flick.

So often it is the ending that hobbles the modern horror film but with Child’s Play, it is a total riot. Given the checkered history surrounding the original movie, it is a lurid red rag waved in the beetroot face of controversy. The blatant hypocrisy that accompanies it, bearing in mind the films earlier explorations of the exact same axioms, makes it all the more stupefyingly anarchic.

Go see it with level headed expectations and enjoy it for what it is, a relentlessly entertaining crowd-pleaser.

Horror, Thriller | USA, 2019 | Rated 15 | 88mins. | UK&US Cinemas 21st June 2019 | Orion Pictures | Dir.Lars Klevberg| Cast.Aubrey Plaza, Mark Hamill, Gabriel Bateman

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