Best Buddi’s Until The End
Next to the Nightmare On Elm Street series, Child’s Play shaped a lot of the horrors I came to love back in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Combining the goofy, camp style of gruesome horror with light elements of comedy is never an easy feat to achieve but both of these series managed to nail the tone perfectly. Over the years, Child’s Play paved way for the later Chucky films and an eventual devolution to the satirical, straight-to-DVD films. Despite feeling a little premature, Child’s Play was perhaps long overdue a remake.
Even so, living up to the charismatic standards of Brad Dourif as Chucky was never going to be an easy feat. Boasting the vocal talent of Mark Hamill and updating the Buddi (now with an I rather than a Y) doll to fit with our digitalized future, Child’s Play somehow breathes life back into the series, delivering an enjoyable, yet rather predictable, remake to this classic 80’s horror.
The story follows social recluse Andy who moves to a new town with his Mother but has trouble making friends. Despite his initial reservations, he eventually takes to the defective Buddi Doll his Mother grabs from the store, Chucky. From here, the doll slowly adopts murderous tendencies before launching a murderous crusade to protect Andy and keep the fun flowing.
Although the story sticks closely to that of the first film, tonally Child’s Play feels much more closely aligned to Child’s Play 2 and its sequel. There’s a consistent pendulum swing between comedy and horror, with some of the deaths outrageously over the top and fitting in with the tone of those original films.
More surprising than anything else, Child’s Play manages to weave an interesting narrative warning about our potential digitalized future. With our increasing reliance on AI, are we really a million miles away from this future? Instead of the supernatural angle, this technological slant feels topical, relevant and surprisingly consistent throughout the film. To begin with, Chucky is simply a defective doll but as he adopts more of our behaviour and learns from that, he sheds his good guy persona and adopts the murderous tendencies of the doll we’ve known from before.
Of course, the film isn’t perfect. Andy’s Mum feels oddly cast and the supporting trio of kids that eventually team up with Andy aren’t that well fleshed out. At times, the comedy does overwhelm the horror too and this is particularly problematic early on when the film should be building dread instead of laughs upon laughs. Although this one does pale in comparison to the first few films in the franchise, it is infinitely better than the later Chucky titles.
Those looking for a genuinely scary film and something akin to Hereditary or the early Conjuring films will be left disappointed. Child’s Play has a few well-timed jump scares and some dread-inducing segments but beyond that, the film plays much closer to the comedy inherent with the original franchise. Mark Hamill does a fantastic job filling Brad Dourif’s boots though and certainly does Chucky justice here. If you can go into this one expecting a fun but largely formulaic comedy/horror mash-up, you’re sure to have a good time.