A mother gives her 13-year-old son a toy doll for his birthday, unaware of its more sinister nature.
Friends to the End.
This is one of my most anticipated films of the year and I’m delighted to report that it was heaps of fun and I was not disappointed at all.
Kidding. There are still a few things to be said about the new-and-not-so-improved Chucky. I need to make it clear first that my love for Chucky runs deep. I’ve been in love with the trashy AF Child’s Play franchise since forever and genuinely found the first few films terrifying. The way the little guy ran around, pushing unsuspecting baby-sitters out of windows, ramming knives into his victims – it was the stuff of nightmares.
Chucky is my icon, my love – and if it wasn’t cultural appropriation, my spirit animal. Perhaps I identify because we’re both ginger and look good in dungarees, whatever – he’s up there in the horror big leagues and he’s my friend to the end. So having him rebooted is kind of a big deal. Thankfully, the creators have brought us a familiar tale while making it just different enough that it doesn’t compete with the originals. As if anything could.
Karen Barclay (Plaza) and her son Andy (Bateman) have just moved to Chicago to start a new life. Karen works retail at the local Walmart-type store where toy-of-the-moment, the Buddi doll is flying off shelves. The Buddi doll is a fully interactive doll created by global giant The Kaslan Corporation – and it seems there’s not much it can’t be trained to do.
One day, Karen blackmails her boss into letting her take home a faulty doll for Andy’s birthday. Andy’s also been struggling to get out of the apartment since they arrived in town and Karen wants to cheer him up. The range is about to be usurped by Buddi 2, the next model so she figures nobody’s going to miss her broken doll.
Did you say Chucky?
Andy’s dubious about Buddi at first, being too cool and too old to play with dolls but mum persuades him to at least have a look. Buddi quickly renames himself ‘Chucky’ and after imprinting on Andy, becomes his shadow. Andy finds Chucky one creepy motherfucker but they soon bond when it becomes clear that the doll actually gets him.
Oh, didn’t I mention that Chuck is faulty for a reason? A disgruntled worker at the Vietnamese factory where the Buddi dolls are assembled has disabled all Chucky’s safety guards before taking his own life. I do hope none of this comes back to haunt anybody…
As Andy and Chucky get friendlier – and start hanging out with some of the neighbourhood kids – Fay (Beatrice Kitsos), Pugg (Ty Consiglio) and Omar (Marlon Kazadi) – things seem to be on the up. Except for Karen’s douchey boyfriend Shane (David Lewis), who Andy despises. But horror movies aren’t usually charmed and happy for long and Chucky begins to display some possessive tendencies which start to have dire consequences for anyone who crosses Andy. Bless.
Also living on the same block is neighbour Doreen (Carlease Burke) who is frequently visited by her son, Detective Mike (Henry). Mike strikes up an acquaintance with Andy and his mother – which is handy when Chucky takes violent action against somebody they all know. With hilarious consequences – it has to be said that I laughed a lot during this murder sequence and the subsequent aftermath. It’s stretched out quite a lot but it fits the childishness of the story, also giving me Stranger Things/Stephen King vibes. You’ll know what I mean when you see it – it’s incredibly macabre and I ADORE IT.
Unfortunately, Andy can’t just be living in sweet harmony with his homicidal best pal and action must be taken. Which betrays Chucky’s trust and makes him mad. Really mad.
If they don’t let us play, they all go away.
The film climaxes at the Buddi 2 launch and I’m afraid it’s brilliant. Disgusting, creepy, tense but ultimately, so much fun. I love the new Chucky, I’m sorry Classic Chucky. Nobody’s ever going to replace you in my heart but Buddi Chuck is pretty adorable. The A.I. has a very saccharine look and I thought it would jar on me but oddly enough, I settled quite quickly into the new aesthetic.
Child’s Play: Reloaded succeeds in making our antagonist a sympathetic one which is impressive given he’s essentially just a hunk of plastic and metal. His reasons are pure and true – he just doesn’t have boundaries.
While I did miss the supernatural angle, this was lighthearted and silly, making me LOL several times. Hamill’s voice work is lovely and subtle, Plaza is her usual gorgeous kooky self – and Bateman as Andy is really good. In contrast to Jackson A. Dunn in Brightburn, Bateman is a natural who easily carries the film. The children are all great and they’re the main fixture for me. The A.I. is bad messaging is irritating though it has to be said.
I want more and I also really want to watch the originals again. STAT. Bravo, team.