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Child's Play (2019) - 1/31 Days of Halloween 2020

Jesus, what a year, huh? At this point, watching horror movies kind of feels like rubbing salt in the wound, because let's face it... we're living one. Oh well... I guess we could all use a little escape, eh? Something light on story and heavy on gory? Well, let's kick off 31 Days of Halloween 2020!

Today's movie falls into the "But why?" category of remakes. Most remakes are near sacrilegious, but to replace an actor as iconic as Brad Dourif takes some serious balls, but it's surprisingly one thing most horror fans were at least willing to give a chance in this case. Will it be enough to save it? Let's find out. It's time to unwrap our first chiller of 2020, and that's 2019's Child's Play.

The film opens in a Vietnamese toy factory, where a supervisor viciously berates and fires a daydreaming worker. Ordered to complete the Buddi doll he's working on, the worker goes into the doll's code and turns off all of the safety protocols before committing suicide. The hacked Buddi doll is then put on a pallet and shipped to America. We then meet a single mother named Karen who works in a department store. When a customer brings in a defective Buddi doll, she sees her chance to score some points with her son, Andy, and takes the doll home.

Although Andy is initially unimpressed by the glitchy doll, which names itself Chucky, the two quickly become close friends. Chucky learns from observing his environment and soon begins exhibiting frightening behaviors after watching a violent horror movie with Andy and his friends. Soon bodies begin to pile up, and nobody will believe Andy when he tells them Chucky did it. Eventually, however, the evidence becomes overwhelming, and Andy and his young friends must team up to stop the murderous doll.

So let's talk about Chucky himself. Unlike the 1988 original (which I reviewed last year), Chucky is not possessed by the soul of a serial killer, but is simply programmed to be bad in a last, spiteful act of a disgruntled employee. Being a smart toy, Chucky is able to control other devices made by Kaslan, the company that made him. This ability is utilized for some really good, gruesome kills, so I'll give the movie points for that. The final act is a little silly, though. If you ever wondered what it would look like if a Teddy Ruxpin went insane, this movie has you covered. Instead of Brad Dourif, Mark Hamill voices Chucky this time, and he does a good enough job, but it's just not the same without Dourif's trademark cackle.

Child's Play just doesn't capture the magic of its namesake. In thirty years, they've managed to make a Chucky doll even uglier and less expressive than the original. I do have to applaud the filmmakers' choice to make Andy deaf. Representation matters. But I think they could have utilized Chucky's ability to hack Andy's hearing aid more than they did. I don't know. I just thought that was a nice touch.

My verdict would be to watch the movie, but don't go into it with expectations of seeing the Chucky we all know and love. This ain't him. The Child's Play remake is a decent cyber, smart-device-era thriller, but as a successor to the horror classic it draws from, it just falls flat on its plastic face. Personally, seeing how Chucky deals with Karen's shitty boyfriend alone was worth the price of admission. Child's Play is streaming on Hulu.

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