CHILD’S PLAY IS NOW SHOWING IN CINEMAS NATIONWIDE
Let’s start by taking a trip back to 1988 and the origins of Mancini’s superb Child’s Play franchise; it was here Chucky took his first breath under the stewardship of director Tom Holland, mixing the innocence of a childhood toy with the 80s love of a good slasher horror. However, after six sequels and a TV series, most people thought Chucky might be dead; after all, it felt like the series and the character of Chucky had genuinely run out of steam. It was, therefore, a surprise in 2018 to hear that the original film was to receive a fresh update, with many fans appalled that anyone would dare touch the original. But here we are, and the question is, does it work?
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It’s fair to say Child’s Play 2019 surprised me with its sharp, funny and genuinely creative re-imagining of Mancini’s story. Here director Lars Klevberg places human responsibility and emerging artificial intelligence centre stage in a movie that has no intention of copying the original. In a not too distant future where our homes have become interconnected media hubs, Buddi is an automated and intelligent friend for children. Buddi helps with their homework while recording his interactions and sending the valuable data to his cloud-based makers, through his big blue eyes. However, Buddi, like nearly all our tech, is manufactured through slave labour in developing countries, leaving the tech wide open to some rewiring from a disgruntled employee.
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The faulty doll, whose eyes are now deep red, finds its way into the home of single mum Karen (Aubrey Plaza) and her son Andy (Gabriel Bateman). But as the Buddi doll finds a reluctant young carer in the hands of pre-teen Andy, he is also building an unregulated view of human life, where anyone who is mean to his young master is fair game.
Child’s Play 2019 is a delightful tongue in cheek horror, subverting Holland’s film into a timely discussion on AI. Here, the real horror lies in human hands as we feed the technology surrounding us. Equally, performances are engaging throughout, with Gabriel Bateman providing us with a pre-teen Andy who sits in the no-mans-land between childhood and teenage life. At the same time, Mark Hamill’s Buddi/Chucky easily manages the leap from a cheery childhood friend to a sinister plastic killer. However, when the screenplay and performances meet the highly original score of Bear McCreary, Child’s Play manages a rare feat in cinema in becoming a remake that genuinely works.