And so Hollywood’s obsession with refurbishing the newest, hippest plaything from the oldest and tattiest of parts leads back to 1988’s Child’s Play. Tom Holland’s original was a fun killer doll flick that made a star of its homicidal rubber rascal, Chucky, led to a fragmented franchise of varying quality, and by and large played it straight.
Mark Hamill is saddled with lame, unadventurous dialogue.
This remake, from director Lars Klevberg and writer Tyler Burton Smith, leans into the absurdity of its premise and, for the first half, treads a nicely wonky line between comedy and horror, aided by some fun, off-kilter dialogue delivery by Aubrey Plaza, dealer of deadpan, as the mother of the film’s young hero, Andy. Then Chucky — voiced by Mark Hamill — begins to go off the deep end, and while some of the kills are going to please gorehounds (even if they’re largely close-ups of people screaming and chunks of bloody meat), the film’s paucity of ideas and budget soon begin to show. It doesn’t help that the characters are all unlikeable, with Andy something of an entitled douchebag here. As for the star of the show, Chucky, Hamill is fun, but saddled with lame, unadventurous dialogue. The doll itself looks cheap and unconvincing — while that may be part of the gag, it doesn’t help matters when the doll suddenly has to invoke fear.
But the chief issue is in the reimagining of Chucky himself as a robot doll. Removing the supernatural possession element that powered the original is all well and good, and there are nice ideas about Chucky being able to link up with the cloud and other devices, but they’re never fully explored. More fatally, what we have here is a film populated by people so dense that they don’t take the batteries out of the doll the second it malfunctions. And when that happens, the film soon malfunctions with it.