Based on the 2017 short film ‘Larry’, Come Play is an intriguing horror that combines elements of Lights Out and Stranger Things to produce a pretty solid and enjoyable romp. While the second half does lose some of its effectiveness with an overuse of the “rule of 3” (more on that later), there’s enough meat here to make it worth your time.
The story revolves around Oliver, an autistic child who finds himself unable to verbalize his words. Instead, Oliver relies heavily on his smartphone to help communicate with others.
Back home, tensions between Marty and Sarah continue, hitting breaking point when Oliver discovers a strange online book called Misunderstood Monsters. As Oliver begins reading, it’s immediately clear that he’s not alone. And thus begins our tale, which continues with a familiar pattern of play until its surprisingly emotional climax.
The biggest take-away from this horror though comes from the imaginative use of electronics and apps. Most of the big frights come through the camera lens of Oliver’s tablet, with an undercurrent of social commentary about media dependence and screen-time.
The jump scares are used well for the most part, and combine nicely with an eerie sound design that grips this picture. There’s a lot of clicking, bumping and bone-breaking splats when our creature shows up, making for an equally unsettling audible experience as our antagonist arrives.
That term is used lightly here though, as Director Jacob Chase uses an intriguing concept of humanizing its monster Larry. At the centre of this nightmare lies that aforementioned Misunderstood Monsters book.
The story within lays out some basic ground rules for this creature, something that’s slowly revealed over the course of this 90 minute thrill ride.
Underneath the surface of this horror though lies a much deeper tale surrounding this couple trying to do the best they can for their autistic son Oliver. The term “normal” is used throughout the picture and it crescendos beautifully into the final act that lays everything out on the line and resolves almost all the conflicts that have been raised across the film’s run-time.
The camera work is worth mentioning here too, with an abundance of rotating camera shots and flickering lights throughout. This does become quite predictable by the end of the second act but thankfully a change in pace and direction does disguise this quite well.
That aforementioned “rule of 3” though is over-used to the point of losing its effectiveness. For those unaware, this unwritten rule crops up in many media forms but essentially refers to two “fake-out” moments before a third subsequent scare. Here, it comes in the form of the tablet being raised and dropped which – while incredibly effective – does become a bit obvious by the end.
Despite that though, Come Play is a surprisingly engrossing and well written movie. While it’s unlikely to be regarded as the best horror of the year, there’s enough jumps, bumps and frights in the night to make it worth checking out.