Cinematic Releases: A Killer Toy Story: Child's Play (2019) Reviewed

"Good night, Andy."

Two very famous and vastly different toy-focused franchises are making their next big appearance in theaters this weekend- one an unexpected continuation of a long-beloved franchise, and the other a complete reboot that changes and modernizes everything that its preceding franchise set up- much to its own advantage. Someone finally managed to make a palpable horror movie about smart homes. The chilling iconic doll returns to the big screen (with Orion Pictures resurrecting from the dead) for an all-new generation of horror fans, updated with all the modern technology that could be given to a killer doll. Brad Dourif is out and Mark Hamill is in as Chucky himself, proving once and for all that his voice acting capabilities know no bounds. Joining Hamill is Aubrey Plaza in a very different role than what she's known for- one far more down to earth, and yet still as joyously entertaining as she has been in the past.

There's no real plausible reason this new Child's Play should work. It focuses a little too hardly on its centralized technology system that Chucky (here branded as "Buddi") acts as the smart home hub for- like a Google Home with a face. Chucky's not the soul of a bloodthirsty serial killer voodooed into a creepy doll, but instead a malfunctioning AI whose safeguards were taken off while on the assembly line by a vengeful outsourced factory worker. That doesn't make him any less creepy, though- his eyes start glowing a sinister red when his murderous intent factor is turned on, taking my mind back to an age where little red lights showing up in the dark at random times made my skin crawl like none other. Chucky's omnipresent control capabilities make him a formidable and dangerous villain, one that appropriately mocks and satirizes our ever-increasing reliance on technology and "smart" systems to make our lives that much easier.

It's not going to maintain the cult classic status that the original Child's Play received, but this new reworking is undoubtedly an imaginative and enjoyable reboot that at least deserves a shot at making it on its own. Mark Hamill at the very least is fantastic, breathing an all-new kind of life into Chucky that gives a very different character from what Dourif gave us originally. Anyone expecting the gleeful psychotic ramblings that the first Chucky gave us way back when will likely be sorely disappointed, but instead, this iteration is an insidiously friendly best friend who slowly but surely gets under your skin before showing up in front of your bed in the middle of the night. It's less loud, but just as terrifying, as its original, and proof positive that perhaps there's a little more that can be achieved from the "killer doll" subgenre of horror outside of the Annabelle series.

-Wes Ball