It seems as inevitable as the sun coming up in the morning. If a franchise is around long enough, it will eventually get the reboot treatment. Miraculously, Child's Play, until now, has never had its continuity reset ever since the killer doll we've all come to know as Chucky was first introduced on the big screen back in 1988. But Hollywood has finally decided it was time to bring a new version of the horror icon to life for modern audiences to enjoy. With the help of a killer ensemble cast, and a terrific casting choice with Mark Hamill as our new Chucky, this remake is surprisingly effective and does a lot to justify its existence.
The movie centers on a mom (Aubrey Plaza) and her young teenage son Andy (Gabriel Bateman) who have just moved to a new town to try and make a new life for themselves. Andy is having trouble making friends, so she decides to pick him up the latest thing the modern world of technology has to offer; a technologically advanced Buddi doll. Unbeknownst to them, this particular Buddi doll doesn't have its safety measures in place. This quickly leads to a violent string of events. Andy must try and convince his mom, and everyone else, that his new pal Chucky isn't what he seems, or the body count is going to continue to climb.
For starters, I should say I was majorly cynical heading into this. I had no interest in seeing this movie get remade. I love the original and I feel the past couple of entries in the franchise from creator Don Mancini were really strong. Yet, here I am, eating crow. This movie is a blood-drenched hoot. The new Child's Play hardly resembles its 1988 predecessor beyond the fact that it centers on a killer doll. Director Lars Klevberg and writer Tyler Burton Smith really found a way to take the core concept and apply it to the world we live in today. There are prevalent themes of our increasing addiction to technology, and inability to live without said technology. Could there be consequences for us if we can't find a way to get on without these modern conveniences?
There is a great deal of humor injected into the movie which, overall, is quite brisk. It doesn't waste much (if any) time. There are also some pretty inventive kills along the way. Specifically, and not to give too much away, there is a pretty incredible sequence in the third act that really goes all out. Lars Klevberg, a man who is just getting his start, seemed to have a vision for this thing. It's also admirable how committed the filmmakers were to making sure Chucky looks and feels real. There is very little CGI involved. It's mostly a real doll on screen and that adds a much-needed something into the mix. But this isn't the same old Chucky. We're far beyond the "doll possessed by the spirit of a serial killer" thing. I'll always love that version of it, but this is something that new viewers might have an easier time connecting with.
From a casting standpoint, it's hard to ask for any better. Aubrey Plaza and Brian Tyree Henry both anchor the adult side of things perfectly. But it's Gabriel Bateman as our new Andy who deserves a shoutout. Bateman really gives it his all and is (almost) the best thing about this remake. Though, it's Mark Hamill who steals the show. Hamill, outside of Star Wars, is known best as a voice actor and he proves to be an inspired casting choice here. He breathes loads of new life into this fresh take on the murderous icon. It's damn near impossible to imagine it any other way now. I will always adore Brad Dourif's unapologetic and menacing Chucky, but Hamill has made the character his own here and the movie is way better off for it.
It's easy to be cynical about remakes. It's easy to be cynical about a lack of originality in Hollywood these days. That having been said, Child's Play really won me over and forced me to set aside that cynicism. It may not be a profound revelation or anything like that, but damned if it isn't a whole lot of bloody fun. Child's Play arrives in theaters from Orion Pictures this weekend.