top of page

Film Review: Child's Play (2019 film)

Updated: Nov 9

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

Child's Play Franchise

Child's Play franchise includes 7 films and 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 perfectly directed by Dir. Tom Holland. Tom Holland's very known by his both 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 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 in 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 a film's socially realistic aspect in the fictional terror story. This is an inciting incident of the entire film. Chucky the killer doll which possessed by the evil spirit of Charles can get into the family of Andy. 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 shoot fight sequence, Charles uses the Voodoo magic to get into the doll. This is a film magic. And the villain was well created by the Brad Dourif who also played the Damian Karras/ James Venamun in the psycho-horror The Exorcist 3 (1990). Brad Dourif and Mark Hamill are similar type as actors. Their faces and characteristics are very close with each other. Mark Hamill 's also well known for his voice acting performances in 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 hybrid of many monsters. It is only a possessed doll by evil. This simplicity is still effective and does not confuse audiences. Simplicity of the monster setting is typical and successful feature of the 1980s' horror classics.

Only one narrative flaw of both original and reboot is that the vagueness of the Good Guy doll's ability to speak. It is mechanic function or something unnatural? This point is vague at the living room scene when Chucky requests Andy to watch TV news. The entire style of creating suspense is the same with JAWs (1975) and the Friday The 13th.(1980) which called minimalist approach to the creation of the suspense. This is also praised by Christopher Lee when he referred it on 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 hesitated at the beginning of the home sequence. As if he hesitates between fully exposition of Chucky's unnatural behaviours and just functional actions of a mechanically spoken doll. This vagueness is the border line between reality and fictional reality. I think Tom Holland's approach is the maximum efforts that followed by the reboot.

This film is 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 the Chucky's super natural status and decides to burn Chucky. This plot is critically persuasive when she finds Chucky moves without butteries. The rest of the Act 2 is Chucky tries to kill Mike for revenge, and gets John "Dr. Death" Bishop, Chucky's former voodoo mentor to know about how to turn into 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 the Chucky and 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 the reboot is 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 the Mark Hamill's efforts on 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 for Mark Hamill's remarkable voice acting of Chucky. It is equally astonishing with Brad Dourif 's original Chucky. It will be the biggest hit block buster film of the year! I love it!

5 stars for both the original and the reboot!


(1) Accessed May 29, 2019.


Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to the professional film writer Ryota Nakanishi as author and a link to is provided.

This film article is for educational purpose only.

Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favour of fair use.

Film Review: Child's Play (2019 film)

bottom of page