Movie Review: CHILD’S PLAY (2019)

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child's play 2019
United Artists Releasing
2019
R

“If they don’t let us play, they all go away.”

  • After moving to a new city, young Andy Barclay receives a special present from his mother–a seemingly innocent Buddi doll that becomes his best friend. When the doll suddenly takes on a life of its own, Andy unites with other neighborhood children to stop the sinister toy from wreaking bloody havoc.

I would guess it was inevitable that a movie like Child’s Play was going to get the remake treatment. I mean, everything is getting remade nowadays, amirite? Well, yeah…but the story behind how this movie ended up being remade while the original version of the Child’s Play franchise continues to put out sequels is rather interesting. You should look it up some time.

Anyway, when news of this remake/reboot/whatever of the 1988 supernatural doll slasher classic come about my usual horror nerd feeds, I vowed to never, ever watch it. Especially after I learned that this new version was going to dispense with the doll possessed by the soul of a serial killer angle, and going with a more “grounded” faulty AI programming angle. Yeah, I’ve seen that episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, thankyouverymuch. Another pointless remake to cash in on 80s nostalgia. Thanks, but no thanks.

But, obviously I ended up watching this movie. I don’t do a review of something I haven’t watched. *sigh* Yeah, I was bored one evening during the extended medical leave I was on, and so I figured, “How bad could it be?” Besides, it wouldn’t be the first terrible remake I watched, if it turned out to be as horrible as I feared. So, I talked myself out of my vow of never watching 2019’s Child’s Play, and gave it a watch.

I really, really hate to say this–and it shames me for having to do so–but Child’s Play 2019 is…deep breath…a good movie.

I am conflicted. I mean, I really wanted to at least not like this version. No voodoo black magic, no Brad Dourif, no potty-mouthed wise-cracking serial killer possessed doll. I already knew that going into this, mind you. But, after the first 20 minutes or so, so help me, but I found myself sucked into the story, and completely forgetting that this was a remake I was supposed to hate with every fiber of my gelatinous being.

So, here we essentially have a smartdoll whose AI chip had the safety protocols taken off by a disgruntled programmer, and the doll “learning” how to be a sociopath killer through pop culture and good old-fashioned social awkwardness. The story is nothing new or innovative–I’ve actually seen this premise as an episode of the 90s-era Outer Limits–but at least they tried something besides retreading the original movie. Sure, the doll has a modern tweak to its look, and it’s now spelled as Buddi and functions more as a glorified Alexa device, which is really more of the premise of an early 1990s syndicated sitcom. Somehow, this works as a horror movie.

While he’ll never replace Brad Dourif as the iconic voice of Chucky, Mark Hamill manages to make his take both playful and utterly creepy at the same time. Very effective, there–especially when you get to the full Buddi Song that plays over the end credits. All of the actors keep things interesting, as the actors doing really good jobs with the characters; I especially dug on seeing Aubrey Plaza here as the mother, as I was a fan of her work in the series Legion.

Overall, there was no reason for me to enjoy this new take on Child’s Play as much as I ended up doing. But, here we are, with me actually liking this movie, and recommending you to do so yourself.

Movie Review: CULT OF CHUCKY

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cult of chuckyUniversal 1440 Entertainment
2017
R

“Okay, let me explain something to you. I am a vintage, mass-marketed children’s toy from the Eighties, standing right in front of you, holding a very sharp scalpel.”
“No, you’re not.”
“Yes I am.”

Hey, remember the ending of Curse Of Chucky? Presuming you watched Curse Of Chucky. I realize it’s awfully presumptuous of me to just assume you come into this pointless review of yet another sequel in the Child’s Play franchise having watched at least the previous entry. In case you haven’t let me enlighten you: The paraplegic daughter from Curse Of Chucky–Nica…her name is Nica–was found guilty of the murders in that previous movie by way of insanity, and was confined to one of those high-security asylums for the criminally insane. Of which I’m presuming was not named Arkham. Which would be pretty awesome if it was. Anyway…

Well, here we are now, four years after the events in Curse Of Chucky, where we find Nica having a breakthrough of sorts in her intense therapy, and being transferred to a medium security psychiatric hospital. Here we meet the colorful kill fodder for the movie: a tough but fair nurse, another nurse that doesn’t really do much, a guy with multiple identity disorder, a woman who believes she’s dead and is now a ghost haunting the hospital, a rather angry lady who burned her house down, and a lady who committed infanticide with her own son. And also the psychiatrist who is the epitome of creeper. The psychiatrist comes upon the brilliant idea of incorporating a Good Guy doll to the therapy group (really, how easy is it to get ahold of one of those allegedly “vintage” dolls? Is there an entire warehouse full of these unsold atrocities, and some guy with an eBay account?) as a bit of therapy technique. Ah, yes, the ol’ keep them from sleeping due to traumatic nightmares technique. Works every time. Of course, this backfires when the bodies start piling up (again), but of course no one believes it’s the doll. This is a psychiatric ward, after all. Next thing you know, more Chuckies show up and join in the fun, and blood-soaked wackiness does ensue.

Of course, I left out a bit more of that synopsis. Don’t want to spoil all of the surprises. Suffice to say, once again the whole stigma of being a direct-to-video release has been obliterated by the quality of the film itself. Like with Curse Of Chucky, director Don Mancini wasn’t going to let that stop him from crafting another entertaining horror flick with heavy black comedy elements.

Bottom line is that Cult Of Chucky was far more fun than it should have been, and I couldn’t be any more pleased with this entry in the franchise. The scene where the three Chuckies are arguing about who was going to kill series original Andy is worth the price of the rental alone. Cult Of Chucky is another great entry in the series, and should definitely be watched as a double feature with the previous Curse Of Chucky for full effect.

Movie Review: CURSE OF CHUCKY

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curse of chuckyUniversal Home Entertainment
2013
R

“Twenty five years. Since then a lot of families have come and gone. The Barclays, the Kincaids, the Tillys. But you know, Nica, your family was always my favorite. And now, you’re the last one standing. So to speak.”

I have to give credit where credit is due. Of all the classic horror franchises to have come out of the 1980s, it has been the Child’s Play series that have been the most consistent with knocking ’em out of the park. Sure, Friday The 13th, Nightmare On Elm Street and Hellraiser franchises may have more movies under their belt (so far), but when it comes to hits versus duds, there’s really only been one dud for the Child’s Play series (that would be Child’s Play 3, aka Chucky Goes To Military School). Even when the series said “screw it” and started leaning toward black comedy when horror movies were becoming more self-aware and meta during the 1990s with Bride Of Chucky, they’ve at least have been far more entertaining than they should really be. Sure, Seed Of Chucky was a little more goofy, but entertainingly so.

Anyway, Curse Of Chucky is the first continuation of the Child’s Play franchise since the aforementioned Seed Of Chucky. There was talk for a while of doing a reboot of the first one, but I for one am glad they decided to go with a direct-to-video sequel that looses none of the previous movies cannon (if you can call it that), but forges ahead with its own story that manages to retain the entertainment, but also goes back to basics, kind of.

The story takes place at a remote old Victorian house, where a reclusive mother lives with her wheelchair bound college-age daughter. She’s very overprotective of her, who has been paralyzed from the waist down since birth due to a trauma while in utero. One day, they receive a mysterious package delivery containing a Good Guy doll, something neither of them recall ordering. Later that night, there’s a scream, and the daughter discovers her mother’s body lying in a pool of her own blood, dead of an apparent “suicide”. Seen, the sister of the daughter and her family come over to help bury their mother…and also try to convice her to sell the house because the sister is a horrible human being. The sister’s young daughter finds the Good Guy doll and bonds with it. Of course, faster than you can say, “Chucky did it”, the bodies begin to pile up, and no one can believe that an inanimate doll is perpetrating these murders. Soon, Chucky plays his cards, and reveals himself as the killer. But, of course, who would believe a doll committed all of them murders? No one, that’s who.

I have to admit, Curse Of Chucky was a far more entertaining horror movie than I initially gave credit for. I’m afraid that, despite many examples to the contrary, there’s still a stigma about straight-to-video release movies not being as good as theatrically released movies. Especially when we’re dealing with higher-numbered sequels. Here, though, long-time director of the Chucky movies Don Mancini decided not to go the cheep route, and has produced a theater release-quality film that holds up to the previous entries. It’s effective on both the horror and dark comedy, and manages some new spins on a well-worn concept by keeping things in the shadows for the majority of the time. In the end, Curse Of Chucky is what you would expect–a B horror movie that’s highly entertaining and unabashedly so. If you never liked the Child’s Play movies, Curse Of Chucky probably isn’t going to turn your opinion around. If, however, you’re a fan of the series, Curse Of Chucky is mighty satisfyin’ watchin’, indeed. Recommended.