Since everything is getting remade these days, it was inevitable that Child’s Play would be getting this treatment, but much to my surprise, the remake of this classic movie about a serial killer doll is actually quite original… taking chances and completely changing everything, making Child’s Play 2019 a new and completely different animal than the Child’s Play movies that came before.
Which begs the question… why did this have to be a Child’s Play movie?
This new incarnation is so different that it could have dropped the Chucky name and the Chucky look and been something completely new and different and, in my opinion, a better movie all together.
This new version of Child’s Play finds the titular doll being given to a young boy named Andy, an edgy kid who’s depressed and curses a lot because his mom has a boyfriend who’s a real jerk. Andy and his doll, an artificially intelligent supertoy who names itself Chucky, form a real friendship despite Andy’s misgivings and soon, Chucky will do anything to keep Andy happy…. anything to anyone… with knives.
So, yes… there is no spirit of a serial killer this time around, no soul transfer, and no Brad Dourif (Boo!), this is a story of a toy who has a dangerous mental disorder trying to make his friend happy.
Now, imagine that this wasn’t Chucky.
Image that the doll in question was simply named Buddi and didn’t have the red hair. Imagine that he’s a Teddy Bear or some other doll you’ve never seen before.
As Chucky, it’s never a question that the doll would turn evil, but as not-Chucky, there would be a question always lingering until the end. It would be helped by the fact that, in Child’s Play 2019, Chucky is portrayed, not as an unrepentant sociopath who just wants to kill because it amuses him, but rather as a confused child… someone who doesn’t understand empathy or compassion and only wants to make his friend happy. My gosh, there are actually moments in this movie that I felt sorry for Chucky and sympathized with him because he is going through abuse, debasement, and has serious abandonment issues. If he had not been Chucky and this had not been Child’s Play and you as a viewer had not had the iron clad guarantee that the doll would turn into a murderer, can you imagine how those feelings of identification and sympathy would have played with your mind and made the movie better?
There’s also the problem that Chucky, for some reason or another, is an iconic villain and, let’s face it, no one is really quite sure how that happened. The original Child’s Play was a goofy, cheesy 80’s slasher movie that should have, by all accounts, been relegated to the 99 cent bin in Blockbuster, but it became this horror classic and its sequels became this personality driven juggernaut thanks to the truly amazing vocal performance of Brad Dourif.
With Brad Dourif gone and the design of Chucky changed, one cannot help but draw comparisons. Mark Hamill is a brilliant voice actor, don’t get me wrong, but slapping a new voice on a beloved and iconic character has consequences.
So, if I had to choose one thing that hurts this movie, it would be that it is a remake of Child’s Play when it didn’t have to be. It was clever enough and new enough to be something else and I think being something else would have helped it. Nothing against the Child’s Play movies, I’m a fan… but I couldn’t help but make connections to the old source material that short-circuited the new.
That being said, I will reiterate that this movie is good and a clever take on the old material. The Chucky doll, despite falling into a very uncanny valley, can be very menacing which is really something that Chucky hasn’t been in a long time. The main characters have enough of an impact to care about, and the movie is full of glorious gore which is a nice departure since horror movies of this day seem so annoyingly reserved.
All in all, I enjoyed the new Child’s Play movie. It’s an old property with a spit-polish and, even though some of the changes are jarring, I think that enough people will recognize that there is more positives than negatives with this transition. Besides, the classic Chucky with Brad Dourif is apparently continuing on television with a new series and, if you hate Child’s Play 2019, you could always take solace in the fact that eventually, classic Chucky will be cracking jokes about it and possibly even murdering Mark Hamill when he does a cameo on his show.