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MOVIE REVIEW: Child’s Play (2019)

Since 1988, the demonic doll known as Chucky has graced the silver screen, murdering innocent people, getting married, having a kid, creating a cult, you know, the usual horror franchise stuff. But, much like most horror movies from the 80’s, the Child’s Play franchise has gotten a reboot, and much like most of those remakes, the movie is not very good. Child’s Play is a movie with absolutely no scares, poor pacing, bad characters, and ends up being a preachy cautionary tale about modern technology.

In the original Child’s Play, the possessed Chucky doll was the product of a serial killer who, after being shot by a cop during a chase, used voodoo to transfer his soul into a doll before he died, and the wreaked havoc on poor Andy and his family and anybody who came into contact with it in the subsequent movies. That isn’t the case in the new one.  Here, Buddi, the generic name of the doll, is a smart-home device for Kaslan Corp., an Amazon-like company searching for ways to change the world. Buddi has a number of functions, like telling you the weather, controlling your thermostat, changing the channel on your T.V., and ordering a ride from Kaslan’s ride-service system, while also adapting to its owners personality, lifestyle, likes, making him the perfect friend.

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One night at a Kaslan factory that is making the Buddi dolls, a disgruntled worker edits a Buddi’s system and changes all the problematic settings, taking off any parental controls and allowing the doll to be violent and swear, though why those settings would be on a doll in the first places in kind of bizarre.  The Buddi doll (voiced by Mark Hamill) is then sent to stores and after being returned for malfunctioning is picked up by Karen Barclay (Aubrey Plaza) to give to her son Andy (Gabriel Bateman) for a birthday gift. After being skeptical at first, Andy starts having a good time with Chucky (Andy originally tried to name him Han Solo, but the doll heard Chucky, so that’s the name it got) by playing pranks on other people in the apartment building and really becoming a friend of Andy’s, a kid without many friends. Things start to get weird, however, as Chucky begins to become more aware, noticing things like violent tendencies and certain words and phrases. He watches as Andy and a couple of new friends watch a horror movie (one of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequels, I believe) and see the enjoyment on their faces as people are killed in gruesome matters in the film. He hears the anger in Andy’s voice when he talks about his annoying cat or his mom’s boyfriend Shane (David Lewis), and all Chucky wants to do is make Andy happy. So Chucky starts doing what it thinks will make Andy happy, which is kill and hurt the people that make him sad. But when Andy tries to get rid of Chucky, that is when things get really out of hand.

I imagine the pitch meeting for this movie involved some random studio suit walking into his executives office and goes, “what is Alexa was bad?.” The executive’s head blows up because he likes the idea so much and it gets fast-tracked. That is all this movie is. This is a movie that questions our dependency on technology. It questions the monopolization of big tech corporations and how all the apps and devices we use could be bad for us. This is all and good and I don’t mind my horror movies with more weight to them and deeper meanings. My problem with Child’s Play is that there isn’t a single scene in this movie that is remotely scary. There wasn’t even a cheap jump-scare that snuck up on me. A horror movie not being scary is like a comedy not being funny, what’s the actual point of it? Even if the original dealt with voodoo, which might seem hokey to some, it at least added a weird, creepy element that made the killing aspect seem oddly more believable than this one.

We are also given terrible characters in the film, none of which have a story and all of which I wish died. Andy and Karen are both terrible and there are a half dozen other kids in their apartment building that seem homeless. Hell, not even Mark Hamill, a true treasure of voice acting, can help this movie, as he is given nothing to do and no fun dialog. The only character I somewhat liked was Officer Mike, played by the great Brian Tyree Henry, but more of my love for the character comes from my love for Henry as an actor. His character is paper thin.  The pacing of the film is also dreadful making the 90 minute runtime feel like two and a half hours. It’s almost as if the writers and filmmakers were so excited about the idea of making a movie about a violent smart-device that they forgot to make an actual movie.

I guess if there is one person who should be scared of this movie is would be Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, but that man has so much money that I doubt much scares him. Child’s Play is one of the worst movies of 2019 and a franchise that needs to be killed immediately.

About Kevin Wozniak

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