Thursday 20 June 2019

Film Review: Child's Play

Wanna play? Killer doll Chucky meets Black Mirror technophobia in this schlocky Child’s Play reboot full of murder and mirth.

First seen on the silver screen back in 1988, Chucky has developed something of a cult following over time; a string of schlocky DTV sequels (with titles like Curse of Chucky and Cult of Chucky) twisted the original premise into something even stranger and sillier than it was to begin with, which explains why Warner Brothers was keen on taking it back to basics in this reboot/remake.

As someone who never cared for the originals, I can’t say I’m disappointed – and based on the gleeful silliness and wall-to-wall goriness of this film, I don’t imagine diehard fans will be either.

Director Lars Klevberg’s rebooted Child’s Play reimagines voodoo-cursed Cabbage Patch doll Chucky (this time voiced by Mark Hamill) as a malfunctioning app-enabled smart toy that can sync to all your gadgets around the home and wreck havoc via Wi-Fi. It’s an interesting refresh that makes a lot of sense nowadays – after all, what do we fear more than intelligent and adaptive technology gone awry? 

The film opens in a similar fashion to the 1988 original; Karen Barclay (Aubery Plaza) is a single mum looking to start afresh with her lonely but well-behaved son Andy (Gabriel Bateman). Short on cash, Karen is able to score a second-hand Buddi doll for Andy’s birthday, which the preteen initially greets with trepidation, before the must-have gadget becomes a source of companionship.

However, it isn’t long before Andy’s Buddi doll – now named Chucky – starts to malfunction. A missing cat here, a creepy bedtime song there; Andy starts to suspect that something about Chucky ain’t quite right. 

While Child’s Play is somewhat lacking in terms of its characters – the relationship between Karen and Andy isn’t as compelling as it could have been – this playful rework does enough to distance itself from what came before while retaining the core DNA. 

Screenwriter Tyler Burton Smith plays around with the Chucky concept, making him a manipulative surveillance device that can record conversations and livestream his kills. From controlling killer drones to remotely steering a self-driving car, this iteration of Chucky can do a lot more than just slash your ankles. 

Hamill delights in voicing the devilish doll, bringing the same madcap energy and gleeful evilness to the role as he did the Joker. The design is a little unnerving at first, but the twisted expressions only underline how deeply creepy this walking, talking, killing doll really is. Coming in at a tidy 90 minutes and with a standout supporting performance from Bryan Tyree Henry, Child’s Play should scratch that itch for fans of the slasher genre. 

The Verdict: 6/10

Packed full of gore and dark, dark humour, this film is a neat reintroduction to Chucky that doesn’t do away with what made the character such a cult horror icon in the first place.

Child's Play is in cinemas across Australia from today.


  1. I'm glad this isn't a disaster! You never can tell with modern horrors. I've never seen a Chucky movie but I'm tempted by this one - I love Aubrey Plaza <3

  2. The part I'm struggling with getting past, which I'm sure will make more sense when I actually see it, but..why a doll? This kid looks like he'd be too old to want something like that whereas 88's Andy was so young. I'm sure there's an explanation but it's just a bit jarring.



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