by Hope Madden
You have to give it to the marketing team saddled with Lars Klevberg’s reboot of Child’s Play.
First came the trailers. You couldn’t see the doll, but you heard that old TV theme song, “People let me tell you ‘bout my best friend! He’s a warm boy, cuddly toy, my up, my down, my pride and joy…”
And then the posters. You know, still no Chucky doll in the frame, but a ripped-to-shreds cowboy doll splayed across the ground.
Well, pardner, Sheriff Woody’s got the last laugh because Child’s Play the film is not 1/10th as inspired as its marketing. It’s a tedious time waster uninterested in plumbing any of its possible themes—single parenthood, poverty, loneliness, tech—for terror. Instead it goes for the obvious prey and hopes star power will blind you to its ordinariness.
Discount those straight-to-video installments in the series if you will (and honestly, you probably should), but at least they each tried to do something different. At some point they embraced the ridiculousness of this itty, bitty freckle-faced problem and just ran with it.
Not this time. Nope, what we have here is one deadly serious and wildly unimaginative reboot. Hell, the doll doesn’t even look good!
And yet, Aubrey Plaza, Brian Tyree Henry and Mark Hamill all signed on to star in what amounts to the 8th Chucky film.
It’s not the concept. The possessed doll conceit has been updated from the soul of a serial killer to modern technology. Imagine if google home required a super creepy doll in bib overalls to work. Admittedly, there are all sorts of Terminator/Maximum Overdrive/Demon Seed possibilities here, all of which are left entirely unmined.
Instead it’s just a defective AI doll (voiced by Hamill himself), birthday gift from a department store clerk (Plaza) to her lonely but clearly too old for the toy son, Andy (Gabriel Bateman, quite good, actually).
They’re all good, especially Henry. Too bad the film doesn’t deserve it. Aside from one kill inspired by Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (nice!), and performances that are all better than the material, the new Child’s Play is a pretty tedious affair.