OK, I know I’m about seven months too late to the party but as ever, I’m jogging behind the bandwagon and shouting my opinions at people who I’m pretty sure don’t care.
However, the ‘Chucky’ franchise is one of my favourite horror franchises and I think it doesn’t get enough credit. For a start, a lot of the same cast and crew have been involved since the start and that’s almost unprecedented. The same writer has been involved with each film, Don Mancini as well as directing the last three Chucky films and I personally feel he’s done a great job with the characters and the Chucky universe in general. I have great admiration for him as a writer and his work so what am I going to think of a remake to his original horror classic that wears the same name, has the same basic plot line and yet, has none of the original crew involved? … That’s tricky.
First, some background.
Whilst several Chucky films have been made, anyone wanting to do a remake wouldn’t have to contact the creator of the franchise because the rights to the original film are still held by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) which is the production company that made the first (and only the first) film. Don Mancini and David Kirschner were offered Executive Producer positions but they both declined as they were (and still are) involved in the original Chucky franchise.
I really shouldn’t like this film. It’s a remake and I’ll give you my one rule for remakes. Remakes are only acceptable of the original had a good concept but was hampered by issues such as a lack of a budget or the film would benefit from the technology that we have today. This does not apply to the original ‘Child’s Play’ from 1988. I watched the original last weekend and I am still impressed with the quality of the film and how they brought Chucky to life. All the effects were practical, and I personally feel that everybody did an amazing job.
The 2019 version automatically doesn’t have a soul since it’s the definition of a remake which is defined as ‘a straight retelling of a story for the purpose of updating it for a contemporary audience or making it accessible to a different culture or region’. 31 years is a long time, a lot has changed in the world and I would say that the remake is definitely made for this generation. And I think that’s it’s biggest downfall.
I’ll explain in a while but for now… is there any point in explaining the plot? For everyone who’s been living under a rock for the last 3 decades, here’s a basic rundown of the plot.
Single mother, Karen Barclay (Aubrey Plaza) acquires a talking doll for her thirteen year old son, Andy (Gabriel Bateman) to keep him occupied in their new apartment but when she gives it to him and he doesn’t like it because he’s a teenager in 2019, she says it was a joke present so which is it?.
Whilst his mother is at work and going out with her boyfriend, Andy and this doll who names itself ‘Chucky’ begin to bond until the doll begins acting strangely and by strangely, I mean the doll begins to eliminate anyone that harms Andy whether it be physically and/or emotionally. Then the doll goes for anyone who could threaten their friendship and then just anyone.
OK, so before we really start dissecting this film, what I want to tell you all about first is Don Mancini’s original draft of ‘Child’s Play’ which was not the original title. As it was, the first film was more of a psychological thriller that played with the audience more as to who was doing the killing. It wasn’t until later in the film that the character’s realise that Andy’s doll is alive. The original title, after ‘Batteries not Included’ (it was renamed so it wouldn’t clash with a Steven Spielberg film) was ‘Bloody Buddy’. In this draft, the doll’s name was ‘Buddy’ and was filled with a synthetic ‘blood’ substance so if the kids were rough with the doll and broke the skin, the doll would bleed and the parents would have to buy special ‘plasters’ for the doll. It was a clever way of making the parents spend more money. Anyway, Andy decides to seal his friendship with ‘Buddy’ by cutting his finger and the doll’s finger and mixing their blood together, it’s after that when the doll comes to life and goes after Andy’s enemies.
This aspect of the script was changed because it was felt that there should be a clear line between good and evil and the character of Charles Lee Ray and the whole ‘Voodoo’ thing was introduced.
So, in this film, the company who makes the dolls, ‘Kaslan’ launches a doll called ‘Buddi’ which can interface with other Kaslan products. So, it’s like an ‘Alexa’ that your kids can play with.
This film is supposed to be based in reality so how does the doll become a killer? I laughed when I saw this.
The dolls are assembled in a factory in Vietnam and one evening, a worker is fired. In retaliation, this worker (whose job it was to program the dolls) removes the ‘VIOLENCE INHIBITORS’ and a bunch of other stuff from one doll… Question. Why would a company who makes children’s toys that will be around children have Violence Inhibitors in the first place? That seems like a lawsuit just waiting to happen. After the worker tampers with this doll, he jumps off the roof.
Also, this doll comes with a bunch of cool stuff such as interfacing with phones and controlling Kaslan products and having cameras in the eyes so it can act like a Nanny Cam and this thing is being sold in a cheap ‘K-mart’ store. Actually, it’s called ‘Z-mart’ and every time Karen said the name of the store, I got a flashback from ‘Army of Darkness’. So, the film accomplished making me think of Bruce Campbell. I actually think about Bruce Campbell most days but that’s besides the point.
Remember, folks. ‘Shop Smart, Shop S-Mart’.
Anyway, the ‘malfunctioning’ doll is returned to the ‘Z-Mart’ by Karen and instead of taking it, she takes it to the returns guy and sweet talks him into letting her have it because according to him, it’s just going to be destroyed anyway.
Coming home, Andy even points out what the audience had been saying since the trailers which is that he’s too old to have a doll and here comes another ‘bullshit’ moment. Andy tries to be a smartarse and name the doll ‘Hans Solo’ but because the doll is ‘broken’, it mishears him and thinks he said ‘Chucky’. There is no way that doll could have taken ‘Hans Solo’ and heard ‘Chucky’. This is just a bullshit attempt to link it to the original and I’m triggered at this point.
I just want to say that Gabriel Bateman did do a good job as Andy, in fact I don’t have a problem with any of the performances, it’s mostly the concept and a lot of the things that happen in the film.
Chucky (voiced by Mark Hamill) is my main issue. Not Mark Hamill. I don’t have a problem with Mark Hamill. Believe it or not, having the doll be evil because of it’s possessed with the soul of a dead serial killer is more plausible than a doll being evil because it’s had its violence inhibitors disengaged.
The design of the doll seems to have been deliberately creepy. The doll in the first film looked like a normal doll and then changed over time but this doll looks very creepy. I wouldn’t buy that for my child. Shit, it would give me nightmares.
There is one bit that makes me think that Chucky is actually the true victim of this movie and that’s that I don’t think Chucky understands all bad things that he’s doing. Chucky is present when Andy and his friends are watching one of the ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ movies and Chucky sees that everyone is laughing at the violence so Chucky picks up a knife and imitates the motions. At this point, I was thinking ‘Is the movie trying to say that laughing at overly gratuitous violence is going to encourage others to do terrible things?’ because that’s bullshit.
He kills Andy’s cat because the cat scratched him and made him bleed. Then Chucky kills Karen’s significantly older boyfriend because he’s nasty to Andy because Andy hates him. It turns out that the boyfriend has a wife and kids but Chucky doesn’t care and kills the boyfriend for pushing Andy and making him upset. Then, for reasons I haven’t figured out, Chucky skins the boyfriend’s head and places the skin over a melon in Andy’s room for him to find in the morning.
Eventually, Chucky begins killing any random person such as Doreen Norris (Carlease Burke) who is the mother of Detective Mike Norris (Brian Tyree Henry) and they both live down the hall from Karen and Andy. I was waiting for him to become her love interest and it kind of happened at the end but anyways. For some reason, Chucky kills Doreen by controlling the driverless Kaslan car that she hires to take her to Bingo and then stabbing her because that’s his thing again. Honestly, there’s no need to for Chucky to killing people with a knife. It would be fine for Chucky to use his ‘controlling’ abilities to terrorize people which is the staple of the finale but why the knife? He honestly doesn’t need it except to remind us of the original.
The grand finale takes place in Z-Mart at the launch of the new ‘Buddi 2’. Can I just say, the woman who returns the malfunctioning Buddi doll claims as a reason of returning that the new one is coming out soon. Really? I work in a clothing store and we have a 28 day returns policy. This doll must have been out for more at least a year which is out of any stores return policy and also, why would a company schedule the release of two major models within weeks of each other?
I won’t talk about the details of the ending because it’s the typical stand off between the hero and the villain… guess who wins? And of course, there is a sequel hook. That’s not even a spoiler, all horror movies have them. Shit, you’ve probably seen the movie.
One thing I do respect is that the film is relatively low budget with just $10 Million, just $1 Million more than the original so that is admirable. In total, Child’s Play (2019) took in $44.9 Million and the other reviews have been about average which seems about right.
I don’t think it’s a bad film, but it did make a possibly fatal error, and this is what I alluded to near the start. The first film took place in 1988 but it feels like it could have been made today. I personally feel that the sheer amount of technology in this film will date it. This film cannot be timeless. The original was timeless and to me is still one of my favourite horror films and the beginning of a great franchise.
I don’t feel any compunction to watch the remake again, but I will always watch the original and it has absolutely nothing to do with my mind-numbing crush on 1980’s Chris Sarandon… because I get major ‘Bruce Campbell’ vibes. I’m going to bed.
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