Child’s Play is a 2019 American horror feature film directed by Norwegian Lars Klevberg (Polaroid) from a screenplay by Tyler Burton Smith (Kung Fury 2 and Quantum Break and Sleeping Dogs video games). David Katzenberg (IT) and Seth Grahame-Smith (IT) produced the Orion Pictures movie which stars Aubrey Plaza, Brian Tyree Henryn, and Gabriel Bateman (Lights Out).
By July 7, 2019, Child’s Play had taken $26,754,570 at the US box office, slightly below expectations after a fairly sustained and sometimes amusing publicity campaign by Orion that referenced Toy Story 4 being released the same day. Worldwide takings are not yet available. The reported budget was $10 million.
A young mother (Aubrey Plaza) gives her son (Gabriel Bateman) a Buddi toy doll for his birthday, unaware of its more sinister nature…
“Somehow, despite Silence of the Lambs-level carnage, the gore level doesn’t shock, inoculated as we are by being in on the joke. Riffing off that, composer Bear McCreary leans in on Omen-like, ever-building horror music. The film’s tautness comes and goes…” Mark Kennedy, Associated Press
“Child’s Play (2019) is sloppy and poorly conceived, but it plays surprisingly well. The cast is uniformly excellent, bestowing a sense of realism unto a film that otherwise wouldn’t have any, and it’s eerily photographed by Brendan Uegama (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina).” Bloody Disgusting
“Child’s Play is pure entertaining fun for the horror fan, but it’s also not much else. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, nor does it offer much depth, particularly with its characters. While the cast is amiable enough, they’re mostly surface-level archetypes […] None of them come close to swaying our allegiance away from Chucky.” Consequence of Sound
” …a perfectly average killer doll flick that’s unwilling to take any risks, but retains enough self-awareness and self-respect to deliver a decent time at the movies. If Child’s Play promotes awareness of Chucky to a new generation of horror film fans, more power to the movie.” Ian Sedensky, Culture Crypt
“Child’s Play (2019) is gleefully gory at times, which was fun and all, but I am an even bigger fan of the Buddi redesign from Todd Masters and his team at Masters FX, as Chucky is an absolute marvel to watch throughout the film, and it fits perfectly in line with the Buddi doll’s functionality.” Daily Dead
“If the plotting and character beats are a tad obvious, what we do have is a rare beast – a fun, enjoyable rehash of some seemingly tired old horror IP. For their part, Plaza and Bateman have some snappy moments of mother-and-son banter. There’s also a satisfyingly gruesome scene involving a table saw and a creepy, voyeur janitor in a basement.” Den of Geek!
” …the chief issue is in the reimagining of Chucky himself as a robot doll. Removing the supernatural possession element that powered the original is all well and good, and there are nice ideas about Chucky being able to link up with the cloud and other devices, but they’re never fully explored.” Empire
” …one of the main reasons Dourif’s Chucky was so terrifying was that he was just a relentless, unstoppable psychopath. By giving Chucky a reason to kill, the new movie’s arc can’t help but dilute his menace a bit.” Entertainment Weekly
It wasn’t bad at all, which is a lot more than what I was expecting. It’s a darkly funny allegory about technology with awesome practical gore. Chucky as CGI is still weird to me, but it makes sense in a way, I suppose. Mark Hamill really gives a soul and personality to the misunderstood murder doll.” Lorry Kitka, Film Threat
” …Child’s Play is a platonic ideal for a horror remake. It does its own thing and provides entertainment value both connected to and divorced from its source material. It features strong actors and an emphasis on character over plot even amid the violence.” Forbes
“Mancini has made his displeasure with this redo known. And the biggest knock against it is that the idiosyncratic qualities (up, down and in-between) of the other films in the series have been sanded and smoothed. Stem to stern, this 88-minute slasher runs like the clockwork bit of machinery it is, and that baseline competence effectively leeches it of personality.” The Hollywood Reporter
“It’s good enough for a single viewing and maybe even a Blu-ray purchase if you’re a huge fan of the series, but it has a few problems. Chucky looks terrible and you feel sorry for him, but he pulls off a few creepy moments. The film looks high quality and pays massive respect to the original…” Horror Society
“…repudiates Mancini’s franchise by attempting to make it bigger and bolder while falling back on ingredients we’ve seen before, and seen better. While it sets out to skewer the algorithms that could destroy the world, the remake hews to a mechanical formula — and winds up a product of the same tendencies it’s trying to indict.” IndieWire
“Child’s Play is fine, but it would’ve been far better had it not been packaged in the iconic overalls of the still ongoing horror franchise. The film is always at its strongest when it’s not trying to fit into the world of Child’s Play and could have been a real piece of B-movie magic had it been an original sci-fi horror flick.” IGN
“Director Lars Klevberg manages a proper rollercoaster of gore and shock, but works in enough poignant, creepy stuff to set this apart from the run of the mill production line horror. Remaking Child’s Play, an original which wasn’t all that original, isn’t the sort of enterprise that prompts cries of sacrilege … and this is a quality, gruesome, nasty, slightly sweet horror.” The Kim Newman Web Site
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“Child’s Play is still more unbelievable than your average episode of Black Mirror, but it works in director Lars Klevberg’s boldly stylized vision in which art flirts with camp. The colors are bright reds and blues, and the rooms are lit like the Metropolitan Opera. Paired with Hamill’s nasal but sympathetic voice, it’s an intoxicating circus.” Johnny Oleksinski, New York Post
“In effect, the director Lars Klevberg has delivered a platonic rehash of Fatal Attraction, with a three-foot hunk of plastic in the Glenn Close role. Chucky gets his voice from Mark Hamill, a distinguished vocal actor when not on Jedi duties, which are presumably more fun. This revamped Chucky has a sense of humor, of sorts.” The New York Times
“… one does have to appreciate that the filmmakers eschewed the lazy route of rehashing the Charles Lee Ray scenario and took a shot at something different—one that hits its targets often enough to make their rendition of Child’s Play worth a watch.” Rue Morgue
“Fans should breathe a sigh of relief, because Child’s Play is a fantastic new horror movie that confidently separates itself from Don Mancini’s ongoing series. It is a fresh new spin, with enough originality to carry it onward to its own parallel franchise. Mark Hamill voices the new Chucky with an entirely new personality, remaining robotic and composed throughout.” Screen Realm
“While fans of the franchise may balk at this techno Chucky, Klevberg delivers the resulting gore with an old-fashioned, blood-soaked approach. When Chucky starts going mental, the special effects gets practical. Flesh is ripped apart, bones shatter and arteries are severed, all while being delivered with a side of black humour.” South China Morning Post
“Despite all these upgrades, Chucky actually seems less intimidating than before. Part of this can be blamed on the ugly new character design […] when you get down to it, his personality isn’t all that interesting anymore. At least the fact the film doesn’t take itself too seriously can make “Child’s Play” fun to laugh at — a kind of good-bad movie experience…” Variety
“Child’s Play is a bizarre combination of Bear McCreary’s vinyl-worthy “toy orchestra” score, Tyler Burton Smith’s wonkily coincidence-based screenplay, death sequences of the highest ick-factor, and so much more – but what’s it all make? A procedurally rigid Child’s Play that doesn’t scare, only shocks through intermittent violence, and begs the question of why this had to be a Chucky reboot in the first place…” We Got This Covered
Artist Ghoulish” Gary Pullin was recently commissioned by Orion to produce a limited edition poster (above).
Bear McCreary (Godzilla: King of the Monsters; The Walking Dead; Happy Death Day 2U; Hell Fest; et al) composed the soundtrack for their Child’s Play reboot. Several reviews have praised McCreary’s score.
Jennifer Tilly, star of Bride of Chucky, Seed of Chucky, Curse of Chucky and Cult of Chucky, tweeted her disdain at the new Child’s Play movie, saying “New “Chucky” movie? Ummm… no. Tiffany and I are gonna sit this one out. #NotmyChucky”
As part of the film’s promo, the following faux press release was issued:
Kaslan Corp, the world’s leading developer of interactive tech products for home and lifestyle, is excited to reveal a revolutionary new product – the Artificial Intelligence human companion, Buddi®. A child’s playmate and new best friend, Buddi® will change the lives of everyone in the family in unimaginable ways. Able to connect to and control Kaslan’s wide range of tech products and all smart home devices, Buddi® is the world’s most advanced AI human companion to date and will be available nationwide on June 21, 2019.
Consumers have been living with AI assistants in their homes for nearly eight years with the introduction of Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and other devices. You can ask AI assistants to play a song, provide directions, forecast the weather, turn off your house lights and much more. But to date, a true relationship building opportunity with AI has been outside the bounds of imagination. Until now.
“The leap we’re making beyond any current AI technology presents a similar gulf between the calculator and the most advanced smartphone assistants. Buddi® is where we’ve all been headed in the field of AI, and I’m proud to say that Kaslan Corporation is bringing that future into the homes of families across the world,” said Henry Kaslan, founder/CEO of Kaslan Corporation.
Buddi® features an exciting range of killer tech and programming, including:
- Highly intricate cloud-backed voice recognition engine capable of identifying speech and comprehension of inflection, tonality and subtle variations in the human voice
- Ability to learn from human interaction and via 20 sensors and cameras that provide real-time information about its environment
- State-of-the-art sensor design providing high resolution image recognition and grip sensitivity
- Preloaded with the ability to comprehend and converse in both English and Spanish, with the option for language expansion via the Kaslan Language Acquisition App
- Connectivity to the latest Kaslan products including the Kaslan HUB home controller, Kaslan VAC robotic vacuum, Kaslan Speakers, Kaslan Drone, the self-driving Kaslan Kar, and other smart home devices
- And so much more!
Henry Kaslan, founder/CEO of Kaslan Corporation, invites everyone to meet Buddi® on February 8, and experience the future of AI…”
Previously, The Hollywood Reporter‘s Richard Newby had noted: “While discussions of a Child’s Play reboot have been bounced around for years, the news comes as something of a surprise given that the Child’s Play franchise, since rebranded as the Chucky franchise, is still ongoing, and stronger than ever. As one of the few horror franchise’s to be born out of the era to hold onto a single continuity, the news of a reboot feels like a blow to horror fans.”
Meanwhile, Child’s Play creator Don Mancini, who is developing a Child’s Play TV series, plus more film sequels to follow the favourably received Cult of Chucky (2017), has expressed his dissatisfaction with MGM’s decision to suddenly develop a reboot – without his involvement – and posted a link to The Hollywood Reporter article quoted above. Loyal Chucky fans have been quick to support Mancini’s dismay.
Don Mancini has expressed further exasperation with the reboot in an interview with Mick Garris on the Post Mortem podcast. He said:
“MGM retained the rights to the first movie, so they’re rebooting that. They asked [producer] David Kirschner and I if we wanted to be executive producers. We said no thank you, because we have our ongoing thriving business with Chucky. Obviously, my feelings were hurt. You know, I had just done two movies… forgive me if I sound defensive, [they] were both at 83% on Rotten Tomatoes. Even though they didn’t get theatrical releases, they were well regarded. And I did create the character and nurture the franchise for three f*cking decades.
“So when someone says, ‘Oh yeah, we would love to have your name on the film’… it was hard not to feel like I was being patronised. They just wanted our approval. Which I strenuously denied them. I hesitate to say too much about it because I don’t want to sound like I’m belly-aching too much. But the producers of that movie are the producers of IT (2017). How would they feel if there was some legal loophole that allowed David Kirschner and I to swoop in and make our own IT movie with our own version of Pennywise and say, ‘Hey guys, we would love to put your names on it.’ I imagine they wouldn’t like it. That’s how I feel.
“The people who are making that movie, they don’t know how that’s going to affect my livelihood. It’s not just a paycheck. It’s very personal. MGM’s screwing with that… potentially.”
To listen to this episode of Post Mortem in its entirety, click here.
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