27th Jun2019

‘Child’s Play’ Review – Second Opinion

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Gabriel Bateman, Aubrey Plaza, Mark Hamill, Brian Tyree Henry, Tim Matheson, Marlon Kazadi, Ty Consiglio, Beatrice Kitsos, David Lewis, Anantjot S. Aneja | Written by Tyler Burton Smith | Directed by Lars Klevberg

Childs_Play_UK_Poster

Child’s Play, directed by Lars Klevberg, is the long-awaited remake/reimagining to the 1988 film of the same name directed by Tom Holland. Klevberg film has caused quite the stir within the internal fan base of the Chucky franchise as original director Holland and stars of the series Alex Vincent and Jennifer Tilly who have publicly voiced criticism and frustration at this 2019 rendition due to the original franchise still a living breathing property, with a brand new TV series on the horizon.

Klevberg’s reimagined feature of the cult classic is a dumb and laughably bad horror and an otherwise bland and completely forgettable remake. The stand out is, of course, the performance of Aubrey Plaza who brings exactly the same stoic ambiguity to the role as she did as April Lovegate in Park and Recreation. On paper, it runs the risk of evoking a sense unintentional tiresome boredom but bizarrely works terrifically well in the film’s comedy, as well as attempt to create a substantial engagement with the material and audience. Plaza utilises the humour to her own strength and it just about hits perfectly. However, the intended black humour is incredibly hit and miss on most of the other cast members.

It mainly focuses on two areas. Firstly; the trio of kids in Andy, Pugg and Falyn, played by Gabriel Bateman, Ty Consiglio and Beatrice Kitsos respectively. The trio’s dynamic feels neither organic or authentic and thus evokes a truly awkward and synthetic “try hard” sensibility. Courtesy of the terrible screenplay by writer Tyler Burton Smith which is void of any and all charisma. Secondly; the voice performance by Mark Hamill. The Star Wars veteran has undoubtedly got a knack for eccentric voice performances with his rendition of The Joker being arguably his greatest advancement as an actor throughout his career. His rendition of Chucky is nothing short of underwhelming. The voice doesn’t match the grizzly grandiosity of such a horror icon. The intention to have a warm and well-known verbal presence to emotionally entice the audience is abundantly clear but the execution is far too flat for its own good. Granted original voice actor Brad Dourif never had a malice intensity present but at least said performance had gravitas and bravado, without lowering itself to a gimmick.

Child’s Play also fails on what tone it wants to provide. It’s never clear what direction it is taking the audience because it never doubles down on either or both. It tosses and turns between glorified horror and black comedy. At times does produce a grand scale of repulsive and disturbing level of gore that really digs deep in the gross-out range of visual horror. Yet, in its second act, it loses all such conventions and thrills, slowly but surely slogging away at crafting a pathetic excuse of a character study instead of the incessant gore fest it needed to be. The film looks both tragically and drastically cheap due to the synthetic production design that isn’t remotely authentic or in any way inspiring. Everything is incessantly dull and boring on screen with nothing having a life or energy of its own. Even the design of the Buddi doll is amazingly lacklustre without even an inch of wrath or inquisitive indication of horror.

Child’s Play is in UK cinemas now.

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