Some of horror’s greatest and most iconic figures have received the remake treatment. From Freddy Krueger to Jason Voorhees to Michael Myers, hell even the Italian cult horror classic Suspira got in on the action as well. Just keep your grubby paws off Re-Animator, Hollywood!
Child’s Play has found itself on the receiving end of a whole new re-imagining as well. Perhaps there were some out there who were concerned about Mark Hamill replacing Brad Dourif as the voice of everyone’s favorite Good Guy doll, but I was personally alright with this particular casting choice. Hamill has the chops and experience in voice acting to pull it off that was the least of my worries going into this movie. It’s not often that I’ve been subjected to a bad film, the most recent exception was being asked to go and see Holmes and Watson (don’t even get me started on that pile of hot garbage), and while this rendition of Child’s Play wasn’t nearly as godawful as Holmes and Watson, in a word it was…forgettable.
If your film interests are as dated as mine, you’ll recognize Otter from Animal House starting the film off as the CEO of Kaslan Corporation giving a pre-recorded speech describing how their high-tech Buddi dolls are not only there to assist you with your day to day needs, like turning the TV on, calling you a Kaslan car, or ordering you a burrito after an all-night bender, they’re also your best friend.
Cut to a factory in Vietnam where one of the workers is caught day dreaming by his boss (I like to think he was pining to be in a better movie). His superior yells at him for like 5 seconds, calls him worthless and tells him to finish this last robot and get to stepping. Dude turns off all of the safety features of this particular doll, and then jumps off the top of the warehouse.
Now, perhaps to some the original film may have come across a tad cheesy with the whole voodoo vibe and Brad Dourif possessing the body of an inanimate doll, but at least there was something fun about the whole thing, and the 1988 film took its time and paced itself well, building up to the reveal that Andy’s Good Guy doll isn’t what it seems and made a genuine effort to get us to care about the main characters before dialing things up to eleven. The main premise that Chucky is Google Home or Alexa run amok could’ve been interesting but in this case Chucky’s origin is essentially the equivalent of someone leaving Bart’s Krusty doll switched to evil.
Child’s Play is full of characters that are one note, forgettable and not the least bit likeable. Whether it’s Andy himself saying shit 5,000 times to make him seem relatable and cool, (even though it felt like 80% of his direction in this film was to walk solemnly home from off camera), to Andy’s mom blackmailing her boss (who eats it something fierce near the end of the film) to give her a Buddi doll for her kids birthday, to her douchebag boyfriend who’s committing adultery on the side or their police officer neighbor down the hall or the other kids in the apartment building everyone is flat, one-dimensional and disposable. And, for as flat as the characters in this film are the kills are even flatter, with only the “Not Jack Black” custodian of the apartment building having a somewhat memorable death. All of the other deaths are just sort of there, everything is quick setup and even quicker payoff.
The finale is just as uninspired. A new line of Buddi 2 dolls are being rolled out at midnight at the local department store where Andy’s mom works, ranging from a leprechaun Buddi to a tweaked out Care Bear Buddi (but they’ve got a new hat!). Chucky hacks their programming sending them on a killing spree throughout the store, until they’re rather easily dispatched before Andy faces off with Chucky to save his mom, then Andy and his friends go full Office Space on Chucky’s lifeless body.
If it sounds like I’m very causally describing the film’s climax, I am, because it was all very casual. There was less tension in the theater and more unintentional laughter; sometimes groan inducing from start to finish of the film from the lazy writing to the cookie cutter characters to the film’s pacing. Mark Hamill does his best to make this movie work, and is without question the best thing about Child’s Play, but while he’s great and his voice acting is fine, he doesn’t quite give the same punch or ferocity as Brad Dourif. Maybe you can accuse me of being the quintessential “old man yelling at cloud” or movie as it were, but to quote Charles Lee Ray, give me the power, I beg of you to never have to watch this again.
I give Child’s Play 2 out of 5 Hidey-ho’s.