‘He’s good at taking friends’
Come Play is a 2020 American horror feature film about a monster named Larry that manifests itself through smartphones and mobile devices.
Written and directed by Jacob Chase, based on his 2017 short film, Larry (watch below), the Amblin Partners-The Picture Company production stars Azhy Robertson, Gillian Jacobs, John Gallagher Jr. (Underwater) and Rachel Wilson.
Special effects were provided by Mr X (Monster Hunter; Antlers; Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark; Pet Sematary; et al).
[May contain mild spoilers] Reviews:
” a very safe run-of-the-mill horror film that’s sprinkled with unique ideas that in no way gel together. Nothing is terrible here but coming off of a compelling and tight short film Larry, Come Play can’t find a fresh way to expand the story, and we end up with a middle-of-the-road flick that’s just sorta… there.” Arrow in the Head
“While the film mostly follows a fairly predictable horror film trajectory, Chase finds some clever ways to make the mostly unseen Larry an unnerving presence, including a set-piece involving a deserted parking lot that ranks with one of the best horror sequences this year. Without delving into spoiler territory, the film also throws some unexpected curveballs at the 11th hour that really reinforce the emotional family dynamics at the core of the story.” Bad Feeling magazine
“Director Jacob Chase demonstrates decent techniques as far as generic genre games go. Undone a touch by a sentimental epilogue, his movie does include an unexpected ending whose shock injects gusto atypical of a DTV B-movie pretending to be a theatrical thriller. Come Play never becomes any more inventively imaginative than that…” Culture Crypt
“Come Play struggles with maintaining its pressing and menacing tone throughout the film but it makes up for these lapses with an effective cast that is provided time to add the emotional components to make the final act scarier than it probably would have been. Jacob Chase proves an understanding of how to set up a scare but, most impressively, the ability to craft characters that mean something to the story.” Daily Dead
“The director doesn’t rely on cheap jump scares or trick editing. Instead, he builds and sustains suspense throughout the well-paced thriller with controlled camera movement, malevolent lighting, unsettling music and jagged, staticky sound. Come Play works by establishing the refuge of technology for a friendless child and then flipping the scenario to explore what happens when the technology demands something in return.” The Hollywood Reporter
“Come Play is a truly terrifying tale that will leave you wanting to turn off your phone or better yet, throw it out the window. It’s intense, scary, heartbreaking, gripping, and heartwarming in a way you wouldn’t expect from a horror movie. So, do I recommend you watch it? Hell yeah, I do.” Horror Fuel
“Thankfully, director Jacob Chase didn’t reduce his film to an overabundance of cheap scares and thrills like so many other titles in the genre, instead, relying on genuine fear and anticipation to move the story along. Come Play isn’t a bad movie, it just feels like it’s confusing, not knowing whether it’s a conventional horror film or a children’s fantasy.” Irish Film Critic
“For any film like this, audiences have to care enough about the characters. However, this fact proved to be a challenge here as thin characters tied together by cliches made it difficult to say the least. It’s only fitting that the only somewhat redeemable character, Oliver, was the one who spoke the least. It was just a shame that the film lost sight of what to do with him.” Keith Loves Movies
“[Chase] allows scenes to develop on their own, fostering palatable tension that’s effectively spooky. Yet underneath all the frights (and there are many) is an emotional journey about a mother trying to connect with her son, and a child trying to understand his place in the world. While these personal touches are often non-existent in generic horror thrillers, they’re a welcome addition that Chase manages to sneak in amidst one of the scariest films of the year.” The Only Critic
“From its presentation of the paranoia surrounding technology and even in the stereotypical way Oliver’s autism is portrayed, this is a film a step behind the times. Even the weak jump scares leave much to be desired. PG-13 doesn’t need to be a hindrance to effective horror but Come Play fails to tap into the fear of a literal ghost in the machine.” Punch Drunk Critics
“Between a woefully underdeveloped premise, outdated, cliched technophobia, and thin, borderline caricatures masquerading as characters, Come Play has little to recommend it beyond committed performances from Gillian Jacobs, Gallagher Jr., and Robertson (Marriage Story), capable cinematography from longtime horror veteran Maxime Alexandre (Crawl, The Nun, Annabelle: Creation, Mirrors), and Roque Baños’ (Don’t Breathe, Evil Dead) minimalistic functional score.” Screen Anarchy
” …the look of the monster is the film’s most effective visual idea. By the time he’s revealed in all his skeletal abjectness, though, Larry’s credibility as a menacing presence has already been undercut by the escapes-by-expeditious-cut that end virtually every scene of suspense. When the big confrontation comes, Come Play has already proven, despite its monster’s prodigious chompers, to be rather toothless.” Slant
“Though there’s grounded, real-world sentiment infused into the narrative — that those who are isolated are vulnerable to evil forces — Chase struggles to craft viscerally stimulating supernatural frights to complement those enlightened thoughts. He fumbles all too frequently when creating a compelling atmospheric draw. The fantastical set pieces are awkward, repeating similar tonal notes, and not quite nailing the timing of the terror.” Variety
“Come Play boasts moody cinematography and a pulse-pounding score—not to mention moments of gripping suspense and all the trappings that make it perfect for a Fall release. Having said all that, Come Play does feel a bit long when it comes to the story versus runtime. The ending, which I will not spoil here, may divide audiences—I liked it, though.” We Live Entertainment
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Focus Features was due to release Come Play on July 24, 2020. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this was cancelled. It was released on October 30th 2020. The movie was rated PG-13 by the MPAA for “terror, frightening images and some language.”
Cast and characters:
Azhy Robertson … Oliver
Gillian Jacobs … Sarah
John Gallagher Jr. … Marty
Rachel Wilson … Jennifer
Winslow Fegley … Byron
Ana Araujo … Girl next to Byron
Ish Morris … Mateo’s Dad (as Ishan Morris)
Jayden Marine … Mateo
Alana-Ashley Marques … Aide
Kate Fenton … Rude Shopper
Budget and box office:
$9 million reported budget with $3.2 million box office. The studio apparently spent “in the high single-digit million range” promoting the film.
Notes: The feature was initially known as Larry, the same title of the short that it is based upon.