Smart Reboot

As a knife-driven horror movie, Child’s Play isn’t out to reinvent the genre. People die in gratuitous ways, usually after the killer lingers in shadows for a while. Occasionally, there’s a thunderstorm because slasher movies do love their storms.

Even the new design of Chucky disappoints. A weird, wonky face doesn’t have the ferocity (or friendliness) of the original. That blend came to define the character. Now, he’s always creepy.

Where this movie works is in the overt subtext, played to a comical level as a small neighborhood comes under attack from corporate, cloud-based smart devices. Child’s Play mocks the entire process, from the slave labor that assembles these products, the indifferent retail employee who sells them, the falsely empathetic corporate headpiece advertising them, all down to the consumer need for the latest gadget.

Chucky isn’t imbued with a serial killer’s soul. Rather, he’s purposely isolating. Chucky’s lingering presence spoofs tech addiction by drawing young introvert Andy (Gabriel Bateman) into a cycle of need. The “I’m your best friend,” line in 1988’s Child’s Play parodied the Cabbage Patch craze. Now, that embodies the hook of handheld touch screens or social media. Mom takes Chucky away; he breaks out. Andy stuffs Chucky in a cabinet; Chucky pounds on the door, begging for attention.

Child’s Play arguably doesn’t go far enough

To further that, Chucky’s intake of personal data learns from the worst of us. He spies a Texas Chainsaw sequel on TV, kids laughing at the gore of it all. Using that data, Chucky’s programming assumes violence is fun. Also, Chucky records everything, taking words without the emotional connection, processing them raw.

Child’s Play arguably doesn’t go far enough. It’s written under a shield as to not offend any singular company, although the links to Amazon or Google stand strong. In populating this world – a restricting apartment complex – each character is drawn far too broadly; almost every death comes with obvious baggage, from the kid-abusing cheater to creepy maintenance guy who installs cameras in tenant bathrooms. Even Andy’s mom Karen (Aubrey Plaza) struggles to break free, a single mom working retail, but with no earnestness in drawing a line between her low wages and those of (clearly) rich CEO of Chucky’s parent company.

The final melee comes at the store where the next generation of Chucky/Buddi dolls are minutes away from sale. Child’s Play toys with planned obsolescence and consumerism in a fun way, upping the bloodshed quantity expected from a movie like this. It’s the right finish to a clever reboot, if not the most engaging horror entry.

Video

Benign noise will dot this digitally sourced Blu-ray presentation. Other than an instance of banding, those source artifacts lack any impact in terms of lessening fidelity. Clarity stays high consistently. Sharpness draws out facial texture, even of Chucky when in close. A few exteriors succeed too, resolving the apartment’s brick facade.

Overall brightness satisfies with dense contrast jumping out from firm black levels. Depth and shadow detail reach pleasing levels.

Choosing a saturated palette, primaries pop from Child’s Play. Flesh tones keep to an organic look within the vivid reds and blues. Scenes utilize specific dominant hues (the climax mostly blue, for example) that stand out without losing Chucky’s multi-colored shirt.

Audio

LFE reaches… okay levels. A few jolts make a mark. Mostly though, the low-end holds back with passable response, peaked during a car wreck. Crunching metal reaches Child’s Play’s maximum range. The rest dribbles out.

Even rears in this 5.1 track meander into position. A voice or two will slip into surrounds (especially as Chucky calls to Andy near the end), yet the rest sounds empty. Stereos fare better, stretching the fronts to create space in various rooms.

Extras

Director Lars Klevberg delivers a commentary, the meatiest of these bonuses. A brief EPK making of and look at the special effects work run under 10-minutes combined. Two funny claymation shorts and promos bring this one home.

Child's Play
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras

Movie

Updating Child’s Play from its original Cabbage Patch Kids origins, AI and smart homes power Chucky in a smart (if familiar) horror flick.

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