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Film Review: Child's Play (2019 film)

Updated: Jan 1

Film Review: Child's Play (2019 film)
FILE PHOTO: A Poster of CHILD'S PLAY (2019 film). ©United Artists Releasing

Child's Play Franchise


The Child's Play franchise includes 7 films and a TV series. Such as Child's Play (1988),  Child's Play 2 (1990), Child's Play 3(1991), Bride of Chucky (1998), Seed of Chucky (2004), Curse of Chucky (2013) and Cult of Chucky (2017), followed by a television series titled Child’s Play: The TV Series. The original film of 1988 which was perfectly directed by Dir. Tom Holland. Tom Holland's well known for both of his Fright Night film franchise (1988-2013) and this one. The upcoming reboot is basically the same story. 


When review the reboot of the original, you must see the original one. The original film is one of the 1980s classical horror films and Tom Holland's best film. Thanks to the exclusive screening of the film. 


Child's Play (1988) is a social comment about consumerism. Andy (Alex Vincent)'s mother Karen (Catherine Hicks) makes a grave mistake at this film's beginning. The Good Guy doll is promoted in front of Andy while he watches the television, then his mother has to buy it to please her beloved 6-year-old kid. The problem is that she buys the stolen item from the peddler. This is the film's socially realistic aspect in the fictional terror story. This is an inciting incident in the entire film. Chucky, the killer doll which is possessed by the evil spirit of Charles, can get into the Andy family. Then, Andy will be targeted as a replacement body for Chucky to be human. This is the core conflict of the drama. 


Detective Mike Norris (Chris Sarandon) shoots the rubbery Charles Lee Ray/Chucky at the beginning. After the shot fight sequence, Charles uses Voodoo magic to get into the doll. This is a magic film. And the villain was well created by Brad Dourif, who also played Damian Karras/ James Venamun in the psycho-horror The Exorcist 3 (1990). Brad Dourif and Mark Hamill are similar types of actors. Their faces and characteristics are very close to each other. Mark Hamill is also well known for his voice acting performances of Firelord Ozai in Avatar: The Last Airbender and Batman’s nemesis, the Joker, in DC’s animated movies and series. This casting is precise for the reboot. 


The reboot of 1980s horror classics tend to over use of 'jump scares', 'over use of CGI effects,' 'grotesque killing', 'hybrid of famous film monsters,' 'easy and rapid appearing of monsters and ghosts.' These flaws which are typical in James Wan factory products make films ''spooky house'' at some amusement park rather than ''film art.'' There is no reboot is free from these flaws. However, the reboot of Child's Play (2019) successfully avoided the common dullness and disappointments. 


Child's Play's Chucky is not a hybrid of many monsters. It is only a doll possessed by evil. This simplicity is still effective and does not confuse audiences. Simplicity of the monster setting is a typical and successful feature of the 1980s' horror classics. 


Only one narrative flaw of both the original and the reboot is the vagueness of the Good Guy doll's ability to speak. Is it a mechanical function or something unnatural? This point is vague in the living room scene when Chucky requests Andy to watch the TV news. The entire style of creating suspense is the same with JAWS (1975) and Friday The 13th (1980), which called for a minimalist approach to the creation of the suspense. This was also praised by Christopher Lee when he referred to it in Rosemary's Baby (1968). This minimalist tradition is the core spirit of the horror classics. If you do not follow the tradition, the reboot will be a spooky house. 


However, Tom Holland's direction is something hesitant at the beginning of the home sequence. As if he hesitates between full exposition of Chucky's unnatural behavior and just the functional actions of a mechanically spoken doll. This vagueness is the borderline between reality and fictional reality. I think Tom Holland's approach is the maximum effort that was followed by the reboot. 


This film was originally a whodunit. Whodunit is a kind of plot to find a killer during the story. This element is weakened in both the original and the reboot. In Act 1, after Maggie Peterson, Karen's friend and Andy's babysitter's murder sequence and Chucky's revenge on the traitor, rubbery partner  Eddie Caputo,  Andy is suspected by police and put in the psychiatric hospital. This plot is something unpersuasive and the weakest plot point. 


The midpoint is when Karen finds Chucky's supernatural status and decides to burn Chucky. This plot is critically persuasive when she finds Chucky moving without butteries. The rest of Act 2 is about Chucky trying to kill Mike for revenge, and gets John "Dr. Death" Bishop, Chucky's former voodoo mentor to find out about how to turn a living human body. The goal of the antagonist is also clearly set up by the plotting. 


After that, audiences are hooked and just need to follow Chucky and the protagonists' battle for Andy. Act 3 is the final solution. Chucky wants to get into Andy's body. Mike and Karen try to protect Andy from the devil doll. Both the original and the reboot follow the three-act structure. 


Thus, is the reboot necessary? The original film already achieved the perfect film construction in terms of story-telling. The main feature of the reboot is Mark Hamill's Chucky. 


Seth Grahame-Smith, one of the producers, mentioned Mark Hamill's efforts in the creation of Chucky. 


''Not only was he into it, he really started wanting to talk to us a lot about it from a standpoint of creating a character, and he wanted to do it as an acting challenge. And when we showed up the first day and the first recording session, he had watched all seven of the original movies, and he had sort of written a whole series of notes about his progression through the character, and development of voice. And then he showed us some of the voices he was developing. It was insane. He really jumped into it like a serious acting challenge. And we're still actually doing the last little records right around now, and I'm star-struck every time I'm in his presence. I can't believe that I'm in a recording booth with Mark Hamill. But that goes away really quickly when he starts to do the Chucky voice and match to picture. He becomes that character. And I think that like everything we're trying to do, there's a difference, right? You're not imitating Brad [Dourif]. That would be insane, and not respectful. I think cast-wise, voice-wise, we couldn't have done better in terms of the people that we attracted to the movie.'' - Seth Grahame-Smith (1)


The reboot is because of Mark Hamill's remarkable voice acting of Chucky. It is equally astonishing as Brad Dourif's original Chucky. It will be the biggest hit blockbuster film of the year! I love it! 


5 stars for both the original and the reboot! 



Notes


(1) https://www.cinemablend.com/news/2470582/mark-hamill-went-above-and-beyond-to-make-chucky-special-in-the-new-childs-play Accessed May 29, 2019.


 

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Film Review: Child's Play (2019 film)

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