Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Child's Play 2019 - Review

Child’s Play (2019) – The new, upgraded, 2.0 version of Child’s Play is not as frightening as the original, plain as that, but please don’t let that scare you away from watching it on the big fancy silver screen.  Chucky is no longer a doll possessed by a black magic wielding serial killer, but rather the result of a snubbed factory worker disabling all of the uber advanced doll’s AI safeguards; more like the cyber-nightmare of Elon Musk than a product of evil supernatural powers. Voodoo always comes off as creepier to me because you can never be sure what the rules are; with malfunctioning robots it’s always the same, unplug and disconnect the fucker from the master control program; but with demon possessed dolls you can’t even be sure if burning it seals the deal.

The new Chucky is sadly no longer a Good Guy doll, but a “Buddi” toy that’s more like an advanced but creepier version of Amazon’s Alexa, a “smart” device for the home that connects and controls all the appliances while acting as a personal assistant for the kids.  The new Andy is too old for dolls but takes to the malfunctioning robot anyways to appease his hard-working mom who got it on return at the retail store she slaves away at.  Little does she know; the device lacks any safeguards, which means this Buddi doll can swear, act violently and develop independence from its owners.  At first this amuses Andy and his newfound friends, but things quickly take a darker turn when the doll’s AI confuses violence and pleasure (thanks Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, you ruined another life 😉) and begins attacking anything that even remotely threatens Andy or their precious “play time”.  Chucky truly becomes Andy’s “best friend”, leaving him grisly gifts and gruesome trinkets after each murder. I don’t know what Andy’s problem is, that sounds pretty rad. I want a killer robot AI friend.

Chucky’s ability to control other blu-tooth enabled objects around the house leads to some great stalk and slash set-pieces and unique kills involving several household appliances.  The complexity of these gore-soaked set-pieces gave me that old school stalk and slash rush and there’s a healthy spattering of witty black humor throughout to lighten the mood; it doesn’t take this shit too seriously.  The last scene devolves into a full-scale department store massacre when Chucky takes possession of other Buddi dolls and drones to cause retail store havoc on the scale of the legendary Cabbage Patch Kid shopper stampedes from the 80’s; it certainly doesn’t try to hold much back and embraces the over-indulgent, insane madcap violence of old school robot-gone-crazy horror flicks like Chopping Mall.   The final confrontation is as open ended as you expected; I assume the new Chucky 2.0 can simply upload his deranged AI persona to another doll, making him practically immortal, and the sequel possibilities endless.

Mark Hamill does well as the voice of the pint-sized psycho doll but he’s no horror cult legend like Brad Dourif, and this new doll comes off as cozier and much more kid friendly than the old incarnation.   While the new entry doesn’t shy away from the crimson carnage the old series always had some cool body-horror FX going on where Chucky would begin taking on more human form as a doll and is subsequently dismembered into bloody plastic covered chunks by the conclusion; a shocking fusion of flesh, bone, and burnt rubber.  You really can’t do that with the robot Chucky, which is a pretty lame step back for me.  I prefer the old Chucky to the millennial snowflake version, but I think there’s enough room for both concepts to survive as the old Chucky has pretty much fallen into the hell of self-parody.