“A white guy murdered in the middle of a watermelon patch. Poetic.” This isn’t a line from Jordan Peele’s latest horror-infused racial satire Us, nor does it come from the atrocious reboot of Shaft. This is a line from a film which is, ostensibly, about a Wi-Fi-enabled robo-doll which kills people due to its faulty programming. There are a couple of these oddities scattered around Child’s Play: a remake, or rather reimagining, of the late-’80s exploita-slasher of the same name. But while the original held problematic racial ideas at its periphery (the exploitative appropriation of voodoo comes to mind), this Child’s Play tries to drag racial politics into its pointed focus.
Or does it? Honestly, it’s difficult to gauge the intentions of director Lars Klevberg – in this regard, and, well, for every other conceptual interrogation throughout the film – because they are so poorly articulated. The surface-level ideas come through: Black Mirror-esque technophobia, although the conversation here is far more vacuous than anything Charlie Brooker has ever offered, even at his season-five lows; that women, apparently, remain subservient to men – or male dolls – and hold absolutely zero autonomy; and that mid-teens living in 2019 are… millennials!
The gore is cringeworthy fun, for sure, and Mark Hamill is mostly delightful. He certainly does what he can, given the awful dialogue. But that’s as much as you can do to compliment a film with such an awfully low bar. Perhaps, if pushed, you could argue that Chucky’s CGI is decent – but should any aspect of a film be lauded for achieving the bare minimum?
Child’s Play is thematically disparate enough from the original, unlike other horror remakes being conveyed out of the Hollywood abattoir, that it justifies its existence. Unfortunately, said existence is entirely wasted by incongruous filmmaking.
CAST: Aubrey Plaza, Mark Hamill (voice), Gabriel Bateman, Brian Tyree Henry
DIRECTOR: Lars Klevberg
WRITER: Tyler Burton Smith
SYNOPSIS: A mother gives her son a toy doll for his birthday, unaware of its more sinister nature.