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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jul 1, 2019


THE NEW VERSION of “Child’s Play” is not really a remake of the 1988 slasher movie starring Brad Dourif as a serial killer whose spirit possesses a doll called Chucky. It was made for a small budget and earned $44 million, also gaining a cult following that made it a franchise and produced six sequels: “Child’s Play 2” in 1990, “Child’s Play 3” in 1991, “Bride of Chucky” in 1998, “Seed of Chucky” in 2004, and the direct-to-video “Curse of Chucky” in 2013 and “Cult of Chucky” in 2017.

And now, we have the reboot, also titled “Child’s Play”, where they use no voodoo or soul transference. The doll is no longer possessed by an evil spirit, but an autonomous robot infected with a bad form of malware and coding. Chucky (voice by Mark Hamill of “Star Wars”) is a member of the Buddi dolls, made by an Amazon-like group called Kaslan Industries.

These dolls are internet-connected toys that exist in a gray zone and can make connections to anything with a wi-fi signal, working on advanced Artificial Intelligence that can make them  interact with other devices, cars, drones and appliances connected to their network. The idea is actually reminiscent of an episode in the TV series “Black Mirror”.

The real danger comes when a doll takes over other computer-operated items that can do harm to people, like disabling airbags and seatbelts that leaves the driver of a car unprotected when the car crashes. There’s also a mother and son in the reboot. Karen (Aubrey Plaza), is a single mom who buys her son Andy (Garbiel Bateman) a Buddi doll after they move to a new place where he’s still friendless. His only friend is a black cop who lives down the hall, Detective MIke (Brian Tyree Henry).

At first, Andy doesn’t like the present, thinking he’s too old for it. But the doll is designed to be one’s friend, no matter what, and it eventually bonds with Andy who shows it how to brush its teeth and play a board game.  Andy wants to call it Han Solo but the doll insists its name is Chucky. It eventually helps Andy make friends with neighbor kids, Pugg (Ty Consiglio) and Falyn (Beatriced Kitsos) who find it funny when Chucky would repeat bad and naughty words.

But Chucky, turns out to be defective and becomes a murderous plaything. In order to please Andy, it turns into a rampaging killer who gets rid of his perceived enemies of Andy, like his mom’s boyfriend, Shane (David Lewis), who actually deserves to die for threatening and verbally abusing Andy. Chucky becomes so possessive as it he wants to own Andy for himself. This makes Andy’s life a living hell and he tells everyone that it is the doll that’s causing the carnage.

But, as may be expected, no one would believe Andy. The toy here is much more possessive of his Andy in wanting to please his master than Woody is of his own Andy in the “Toy Story” series. Chucky’s journey to violence starts comically when an overworked programmer in Vietnam decide to shut down all of Chucky’s safety protocols before putting him in a box and exporting him off.

Chucky learns from watching, like when he sees Andy and friends laughing at all the blood gore in a “Texas Chain Saw Massacre” flick. So Chucky gets a knife, thinking that violence would bring Andy happiness. Soon, he turns into a powerful killer with the ability to control any electronic device.

The movie actually tries to be a lot of things: a horror flick, a comedy-satire and even gives some social commentary about the risks of computerized technology, but the humor is not really that funny, especially that of the clueless black cop who’s Andy’s friend. There’s abundant amounts of blood and gore but it’s not really terrifying. Its idea of horror is having a young child splattered by blood gushing like a fountain from a victim’s jugular stabbed by Chucky.

What’s nice about the movie is that child actor Gabriel Bateman plays his role as the boy with a killer doll with an authenticity few actors of any age could impart. This is important for us viewers to emotionally invest in his story, which his own mother refuses to believe.

Mark Hamill also delivers as the voice of Chucky whose robotic wirings have gone haywire. His voice acting starts with an innocence that elicits sympathy especially when he’s asking Andy “Are we having fun now?”, then escalates with menacing intensity to keep us on our toes. And right after Chucky, we’ll have another killer doll, Annabelle, in another sequel.