Child’s Play (2019)

This is the first Child’s Play movie made without the involvement of creator Don Mancini and actor Brad Dourif. Instead, Lars Klevberg (whose film Polaroid has been lost in the legislative downfall of the Weinsteins) directed from a script by Tyler Burton Smith (who wrote the video games Sleeping Dogs and Quantum Break).

Mancini has criticized the remake while understanding that rights holder Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer can do anything they want. When asked if he and fellow producer David Kirschner would be involved, he said, “We said no thank you, because we have our ongoing thriving business with Chucky. Obviously my feelings were hurt… And I did create the character and nurture the franchise for three decades. So when someone says, “Oh yeah, we would love to have your name on the film,” it was hard not to feel like I was being patronized. They just wanted our approval. Which I strenuously denied them.”

Instead of the supernatural origins of the past, this Chucky is a Buddi doll created by the Kaslan Corporation. This kind of tears out the most frightening part of the Chucky concept — a doll that somehow comes to life yet is consumed by pure evil.

The real problem starts in a foreign Buddi assembly factory, where an employee takes out all of the safety protocols before killing himself. That doll eventually makes its way to the home of Karen Barclay (Aubrey Plaza) and her hearing-impaired son Andy (Gabriel Bateman, who was also in Annabelle and Lights Out).

While Andy eventually gains real human friends, Chucky places his friend’s happiness above all common sense and restraint. Unlike the past, where Chucky is motivated only by his own concerns, here you can see how his lack of human understanding leads to all of the murder and mayhem. He doesn’t realize how a movie that the kids watch, like Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, can provide laughter and pleasure while real death leads to life-changing results.

This Chucky also has the ability to command phones, household objects, drones and cars, as well as command an army of the next line of Buddi dolls on the night they are introduced, which includes a positively harrowing bear version.

I was totally prepared to absolutely despise this film until I saw it in a new light. I wondered, what if Claudio Fragrasso somehow got his hands on the chance to make Child’s Play? The results wouldn’t be all that great, but they’d sure be fun. That’s what this movie aspires to. It’s certainly entertaining — any movie where the adulterous villain is scalped by a tiller in a watermelon patch while taking down Christmas lights and his face is skinned off and passed around as a gift or a child is sprayed right in the face by a store manager’s blood is going to be a winner in my book. But it could have been a totally different film with a totally different title and lead character without changing the story all that much.

But hey — Mark Hamill is awesome as the voice of Chucky and Tim Matheson shows up as Henry Kaslan, the head of Kaslan Industries. I laughed out loud a few times. And I’m not as married to Chucky as a slasher hero as I am to Michael Myers, Jason, Freddy, Leatherface or anyone else. And let’s face — all of those characters have had some pretty bad movies in their history, too. This one isn’t as bad as any of those. Sure, Chucky looks like unfinished CGI, but you can’t have everything.

There’s also another Chucky movie coming out this year called Charles and Mancini has a TV series in development. Want to learn some more about killer dolls? Check out this list of ten evil dolls that we posted a few weeks ago.

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