Child’s Play (2019) did not click for me because the combination of comedic-tone-meshed-with-horror never fully synched up, the change from supernatural to technology wasn’t as compelling, and the use of tropes was lazy. I really enjoyed the first three Child’s Play movies when I was a kid, and – usually – I’m a big fan of horror comedies. Throw in Mark Hamill, and you’d think this film would really work for my sensibilities…but instead, I was constantly checking the clock, hoping it would end much quicker than it felt like it did.
The new Child’s Play felt more like punishment
Andy (Gabriel Bateman) and his mother (Aubrey Plaza) have just moved into a new place, and to smooth things over, she gets him a used Buddi 1 who names himself Chucky (voiced by Mark Hamill). Unfortunately, this particular doll is defective and is able to do things the other Buddi’s just can’t – like commit murder. Buddi just wants to play with Andy, and he won’t let anyone or anything keep them apart.
I had never seen Steven Spielberg’s film A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) until just a few days before I saw this new film. It was a coincidence, but the similar elements of the story were a little surprising. Chucky’s obsession with Andy mirrors David’s (Haley Joel Osment) with his mother in many ways. Of course, Chucky’s decisions are much darker than David’s, but their motivations are very similar. However, it is this motivation that I feel doesn’t justify some of the actions that Chucky takes. The killing is one thing, but there is a sadistic joy he seems to take with how he kills and what he does afterward that doesn’t make sense to the character as built.
While the story never really works for me, it isn’t the fault of the cast. Plaza and Bateman are both fine, as is Brian Tyree Henry as Detective Mike. There are a few other characters, as they felt the need to add friends for Andy into this film, despite that the whole reason for Chucky being around is to help the socially awkward kid not be alone. Beatrice Kitsos and Ty Consiglio get a bit to do here and are fine in their roles. It is just a shame that the film is never able to make anything feel like it makes sense in the world of the movie. Each act of the story is very distinctive but lacks ever being engaging.
I checked out early on when we see the factory where the Buddi toys are being constructed in Vietnam. First, the factory doesn’t look like a factory – but I’m willing to chalk that up to trying to make the scene work within the budget. However, the guy working on the doll that will become Chucky gets fired and decides to turn off all the safety protocols. As we follow that doll’s pallet to the truck, we witness the worker kill himself by jumping off the roof. It was a jarring shock that establishes the film’s mocking of death that will follow for the rest of it. That tone just didn’t work for me.
Child’s Play may have an audience, but I wasn’t it. I really couldn’t wait to get out of the theater, and that was disappointing. The old ones managed to always entertain, no matter how crazy or big the movies got. This one just seemed like it could have been something else and not connected to the memories I had of the old franchise. Child’s Play earns Not a Total Waste of Time rating.