CHILD’S PLAY IS NOW SHOWING IN CINEMAS NATIONWIDE
Don Mancini’s superb Chucky took his first breath under the stewardship of director Tom Holland in 1988, bringing our collective childhood nightmares to life as an innocent toy became a ravenous serial killer. Since then, Chucky has become a cult figure, starring in seven feature films; therefore, it was somewhat of a surprise to hear that the original movie would receive a fresh update. After all, how could you possibly better the original? But here we are, the deed is done, so the question is, does it work?
It’s fair to say Child’s Play 2019 was somewhat of a surprise if you try and view it as a completely separate entity from all the films that have come before it. After all, this is not a Don Mancini flick and does not embrace the history or family behind the Chucky movies. But if you can explore Child’s Play 2019 as something new, it does hold some sharp, funny, and genuinely creative traits. 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 open to some rewiring from a disgruntled employee.
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 threatens his young master is fair game. Elements of Child’s Play 2019 are delightful in the tongue-in-cheek horror they create, subverting many aspects of the Chucky story. Here, the real horror lies in human hands as we feed the technology surrounding us. Equally, performances are engaging throughout, with Gabriel Bateman providing 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, it’s not Child’s Play or Mancini’s Chucky, which leaves you asking a simple question: was this film necessary? The answer to that is genuinely more complex than the AI interface of Buddi.