The latest comparison in my originals Vs Remakes series came about rather unexpectedly, as I only recently found out that a Child’s Play remake was in the works when the poster and trailer were suddenly already upon us.
How unjust the universe then was to conspire against me seeing the remake by having my local Cineworld – a cinema I frequent because of my Unlimited Card – only show the film for a week, and during that week only for one time slot per day, the dreaded late show.
I work an 8-4 office job when I am not blogging, and living so far away I have to get up at 6 to get to work for 8. Ah so do most people I hear you cry. But it’s due to this that I can’t really be sitting down at Cineworld to watch a film at 9.30 as that means I’ll be home well after midnight by the time I have caught the two buses required to get me there.
So I resigned myself to the fact that my date with the demented toy wasn’t to be. That was until I discovered by chance that the film was still showing at Cineworld in Chichester. I’d been to that cinema a couple of times with my friend who’d always driven us so I had no idea how to get there on public transport, but I figured it couldn’t be that hard. And besides, not only would I get to see the Chuckster, I’d also get to see Brightburn, another film I’d missed at my local Cineworld in Brighton. Two birds, one train journey. My date night was back on.
I headed to Chichester on what must have been one of the hottest days of the year so far. The journey is super easy FYI if you’re coming from Brighton/Hove/Portslade area, and only takes around 45 mins. You don’t have to change trains either which is fine by me. The cinema is literally a 5 minute walk from the train station, and I arrived with plenty of time to find it (in case I got lost) and so treated myself to an Ice Cream for the stroll in the blistering heat.
I’m northern and ridiculously pale so I’m not best equipped at dealing with summer heat at the best of times, so in all honesty sitting in the air conditioned shelter of a cinema really was the best thing I could have done with my day. I settled down with some pick n mix to watch the first of my double bill, Brightburn. Which you can read my review of here.
A quick 25mins after the end of that film, just enough time to scarf down my MacDonalds, and it was finally time for Chucky! And boy was I ready for him!
I have seen the original Child’s Play probably about 10 or so years ago now, but I’ve not seen any of the sequels, so I also decided I would re-watch original Child’s Play too in order to refresh my memory. However, today I am going to start with the re-make as I watched that one first this time around.
Child’s Play (2019)
As you can see from the poster, Chucky does look a bit different in the new movie compared to the 1988 version of him. But many of the characteristics we’ve come to expect from Chucky are very much still evident in this reboot. The ginger hair, the striped jumper and the denim dungarees are all recognisably Chucky chic and they are all features of the new and updated AI Chucky doll, in this film a Buddi doll designed to keep tech fascinated kids safe, whilst ensuring they don’t just stare at their phones all day and actually interact with their Buddi doll.
The differences to the original start from the off however, when a disgruntled employee at the Kaslan factory – the manufacturers of the dolls – intentionally takes all of the safety controls off one of the dolls before packaging it up and shipping it off. Oh and then killing himself so no-one will ever know what he did! This film should be shown to big corporations as a warning to keep your employees happy!
The rest of the film followed a pretty similar pattern to the 80s classic (as I remembered it anyway), the defective doll is returned to store, where Customer Service Store Clerk Karen (Aubrey Plaza) offers to take it off their hands so she can give it to her son Andy for his birthday. Andy is having a hard time adjusting to their new apartment, new town, new friends to make, and on top of that has a hearing impairment so he’s feeling especially isolated.
Karen’s not exactly making loadsamoney at work so she gives the returned Buddi doll to Andy for his birthday in lieu of a more expensive gift that he actually wants, like a new phone. Little does she know that the doll, which re-names itself Chucky, has difficulty knowing right from wrong because of his lack of safety controls. He quickly kills the cat, who he sees as an enemy to his friend Andy after the cat scratches him, and then other people in the apartment complex start meeting grizzly ends too. Could this all be the work of a doll?
You know it! I definitely think they ramped up the gore in this updated instalment of the Child’s Play franchise, but other than that (and the change to the doll being possessed), it’s a pretty similar storyline, and of course it ends in such a way that a sequel is inevitable. I suppose the only question is how much money is in the cash cow to make it viable. Only time will tell on that front.
I thought Mark Hamill as the voice of Chucky was inspired casting. Anyone who has followed Luke Skywalker’s long and varied career as a voice actor knows full well that he is a man capable of delivering a sinister voice. His Chucky was utterly delightful in his unhingedness, and I’m totally down for more where that came from.
Plaza and relative newcomer Gabriel Bateman who plays Andy were also a joy to watch. If you liked the original I’m pretty darn certain you’ll find a lot to like here.
Child’s Play (1988)
I re-watched the original Child’s Play tonight and I have to say I didn’t remember a lot of it. The general story of a possessed killer doll yes, but the how’s and the why’s not at all.
As I said at the start of the 2019 Child’s Play review, the new Chucky isn’t possessed. In fact why he decides to call himself Chucky (beyond that being the original doll’s name) isn’t clear to me.
In this version we open on Detective Mike Norris (Chris Sarandon) finally on the verge of capturing notorious serial killer Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif). Ray takes refuge in a toy store, and on the brink of death from a gunshot wound, he transfers his soul into a Good Guy doll via a spot of voodoo.
Next we meet single mom Karen and her six year old son Andy who loves the Good Guy TV show and wants nothing more than a Good Guy doll of his own for his birthday. Mom however can’t quite afford the doll and gets Andy some much needed clothes and some of the Good Guy accessories until she can afford to get him a friend till the end.
As luck would have it, Karen’s workmate Maggie finds a homeless dude pedalling a Good Guy doll in the alley behind the store they work in, and she takes Karen to buy the doll for Andy. I don’t see how this could go wrong, do you?
Within seconds of opening up his present, Andy has already got the doll talking, and he tells Andy, “my name is Chucky, wanna play?” This all makes sense when you know that the doll is really Charles ‘Chucky’ Lee Ray. Not so much in the re-make. Anyway, before you know it Charles is up to his old tricks, starting with Karen’s friend (and part-time Andy’s babysitter) Maggie, who comes a cropper when she turns the 9 o clock news off on Chucky. Bad move Maggie.
Soon Chucky is killing people all over the place, but rather than these being people who’ve upset his friend Andy, these are just people who were on Charles’ hit list. Again it makes more sense, and is somehow all the more creepy for it, because it’s all pre-planned. Whereas in the new film he doesn’t really know right from wrong at first and is just trying to protect Andy as best he can.
In this version, the fact that Chucky is possessed by a human man who is a serial killer makes it all so much more sinister. And the fact that he’s going after a six year old boy too. In the new movie Andy is quite a bit older, I can’t remember if his age is mentioned but he’s got to be at least 10? It’s not as frightening as a six year old trying to fend off a grown up murderer (even if he is in doll form).
The cast in this are great, especially Andy who genuinely feels as young as he’s meant to be (not like a 30 year old playing a teenager which you see in most Hollywood movies and TV shows). He makes you fear for him and his sweet Mom, and Chris Sarandon is on top form as the detective trying to figure out if a doll is really killing people.
I was right in my assumption that the gore factor in the original is less than the re-make, with not very much visible gore on screen. It’s more about the serial killer trapped in a doll aspect that makes this one scary. But for that it still gets a hearty thumbs up from me.
Verdict – watch both movies, they both offer something unique and performances in both make them worth watching.