Hollywood had long been obsessed with remaking popular films from the past, and the horror genre has often been the favorite testing ground for these updated adaptations. More often than not, the duplicate is just that, a pale imitation of the original, rarely capable of capturing the original magic, much less creating some of its own. With news of a Child’s Play remake, I expected this trend to continue, particularly with news of Don Mancini disassociated himself with the film. But considering the downward spiral of Mancini’s franchise (which continues simultaneously with home-entertainment releases), this turned out to be a good thing.
The wisest thing the Child’s Play remake does is to avoid attempting to simply revisit the same story. Instead, this new version is updated for relevance with modern times. While the original was released as a revision of the slasher films popularized in the 1980s, this new version’s monster is created from an abused workforce and misguided attempts to raise children with heavy reliance on technological assistance. This is achieved by having Chucky created by an abused and angry factory worker, rather than the soul of a serial killer. Born not as a vengeful supernatural doll, but instead simply a self-aware toy with safety programs disabled.
Chucky is given to a 13-year-old boy named Andy (Gabriel Bateman) whose over-worked mother (Aubrey Plaza) takes the doll from the discount store she works for after it is returned for being defective. Over-worked as she may be, Andy’s mother is unlikely to win any ‘parent of the year’ awards, and Andy is given a lot of free time with his new toy. When he discovers that the usual safety measures that stop Chucky from misbehaving have been disabled, Andy makes friends with a couple of other low-income neighbor kids and they use the toy for all kinds of troublemaking. It isn’t until Chucky starts taking their suggestions as inspiration for his own ideas that Andy realizes the real danger of having no safety measures to stop his doll.
Child’s Play may alter the character of Chucky drastically, making him more of an amoral killer child than an immoral supernatural doll, but the wisest thing it does it retain the humor from the original. On top of the subtle satire of an over-industrialized, technology-reliant modern society, the film revels in the dark humor created by the absurd set-up. This humor also helps allow director Lars Klevburg push the violence to extreme levels without completely off-putting the audience. It is a purposefully politically incorrect horror release, even in the seemingly insignificant scenes, such as one involving a black customer with a racial bias against red-heads, wanting to return the Buddi doll in anticipation of one that isn’t “ginger.”
I’m certain there are also more than a few who will be interested in this film for the mere fact that Mark Hammill was cast to voice Chucky. Hammill, while best known for the Star Wars franchise, has his second-most memorable performance as the voice of Joker. Clearly having a blast as the obliviously psychotic child-like doll, Hammill brings a whole new level of twisted humor to the premise. All in all, the Child’s Play remake finds a perfect balance between sick entertainment and biting social satire.
The Blu-ray release of Child’s Play comes with a commentary track by Klevberg, while most of the remaining extras are simply promotional material. There are two brief featurettes; a making-of, and one about the film’s effects. There are also a couple of shorts and other marketing promos.
Entertainment Value: 7/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 7.5/10
Historical Significance: 6/10
Special Features: 6.5/10