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  Child's Play Toy GoryBuy this film here.
Year: 2019
Director: Lars Klevberg
Stars: Aubrey Plaza, Gabriel Bateman, Mark Hamill, Brian Tyree Henry, Tim Matheson, David Lewis, Beatrice Kitsos, Trent Redekop, Ty Consiglio, Carlease Burke, Marlon Kazadi, Kristin York, Zahra Anderson, Amber Taylor, Veenu Sandhu, Mia Bella, Nicole Anthony
Genre: Horror
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: A year ago, Kaslan Industries debuted the Buddi dolls, an innovation in toy technology which could connect to devices around the house of the owner, carry on conversations and interactions with the children it was bought for, and move around by itself to create a perfect plaything. Of course, there did have to be safety controls built into it, and that was a major feature, yet what if one of those dolls got through the manufacturing process without them? What if a sweatshop employee who made the thing turned them off as a protest about the terrible conditions he was working under, then committed suicide? What if Buddi Doll Chucky (voiced by Mark Hamill) was here?

It should be a risky proposition, rebooting film franchises, especially when the original creators expressed no interest in this remake of their 1988 Child's Play instalment that went on to spawn a wide variety of sequels which veered from the comedic to the serious, sometimes in the space of one movie. Chucky itself had found its metier as a signifier of bad boy horror bad taste, and there was a sense Tyler Burton Smith's new screenplay was seeking to tap into that, a supposedly innocent children's toy whose placid, cheery fa├žade concealed the dark heart of a murderer beneath, but this time around there was no cheesy voodoo to possess the doll with the soul of a serial killer.

Nope, it was a technophobic take on the tale we were presented with, turning Child's Play into a killer robot movie - nobody mentions the Good Guy dolls of the source, but you could imagine Buddi was a reboot of them in this fictional world, just as My Little Pony or Transformers proved too lucrative not to revive in the real world. Certainly the new Chucky looked similar enough to the old to echo the Don Mancini series, but different enough too - it also had to be said, not quite as classic in design, as you had trouble imagining a toy that looked like this would be a hit with the kiddies without some serious redevelopment to its appearance, this Chucky variation wasn't cute at all.

Now, here he is a monstrous bit of out of control tech, so we were intended to find him creepy, but part of the joke with the 1988 effort was that Chucky was cute, and the fact that he swore with Brad Dourif's voice, never mind murdering people, was part of the appeal: the 2019 was about as adorable as the rampaging robots of Chopping Mall. Appropriately this staged its finale in a supermarket, hinting at a satirical view of consumerism, but it did a lot of hinting at themes that it never quite committed to: were we supposed to muse over such hot button topics as stalking or bullying, feel sympathy for minimum wage workers or single parent families, or was it all simply a lark and these social conscience trappings were merely window dressing when it accepted violence was the big draw?

Aubrey Plaza was the single mother in question who brings home a slightly (she believes) malfunctioning Buddi doll in the hope that getting it free from her supermarket job will mean she can cheer up her son Andy (Gabriel Bateman) without a drain on her resources. Plaza was a curious choice for the role, as her public persona as a celebrity weirdo would seem to render her more appropriate as the voice of a murderous doll, but she brought her accustomed quirk to the part even if she was regrettably sidelined the further the plot progressed. In fact, Andy quickly became the main character as those around him were arranged as victims and potential victims of Chucky, whose lack of programming restraint and a wish to hang onto its owner to the point of executing his tormentors or indeed rivals brings it to slasher movie activities. This Child's Play was well-received overall, though that might have been because it was not a total bastardisation of a pranksterish concept; you did feel as if it could have gone further, however, the techno paranoia was just right for its era. Music by Bear McCreary.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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