Thirty-one years since the original Child’s Play, the film that spawned six sequels and gave the world Chucky the killer doll, the franchise gets a slick and satisfying update. Directed by Norway’s Lars Klevberg, this reboot/remake ditches the brought-to-life-by-voodoo angle. Instead, we have a story of artificial intelligence gone haywire. As one character notes, “This is how every robot apocalypse starts.”
The 21st Century twist positions our murderous toy-boy as part of the Buddi range – a doll that can interact, Alexa-like, with a number of other home products. Capable of learning about its owner, he’s the ideal companion for youngsters (“Are we having fun now?” it repeatedly asks). But when a disgruntled employee in the Vietnamese factory making the toys tinkers with one, it turns this placid product into a vindictive killing machine...
Soon enough, the demented doll ends up in the hands of Andy (Gabriel Bateman), gifted to him by his mother Karen (Aubrey Plaza). It doesn’t take long before Chucky, as Andy names him, is learning how to kill – from watching horror movies to listening to idle chatter. Chucky is superbly voiced by Mark Hamill, while the character’s blank expressions, glowing eyes and jerky movements are expertly realised with animatronics.
Purists may baulk that series creator Don Mancini is not involved – he’s reportedly working on his own Chucky TV series – or that Chucky is now robot-powered. But the film pays tribute to the golden age of video nasties with some grisly, blood-splattered outcomes (leg breaks, lawnmowers and table-saws all feature). If your humour skews towards the sick and twisted, then this box-fresh Child’s Play will give you one almighty kick.