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To paraphrase Cliff Richard, we have once again got ourselves a cryin’, talkin’, sleepin’, walkin’, increasin’ly disturbin’, menacin’, stabbin’, terrifyin’, livin’ doll. (Cliff went on to say of his own partner that he was “gonna lock her up in a trunk so no big hunk can steal her away”, so he may qualify for horror-film status on his own.)
The satanic toy Chucky is back in an entertaining reboot of the horror franchise, written by Tyler Burton Smith and directed by newcomer Lars Klevberg, a Norwegian film-maker who has another scary movie out this year called Polaroid, about a possessed camera.
Chucky is voiced by Mark Hamill (with one flippant reference to Han Solo) and our squat, troll-haired antihero is something of a cousin to Ted, the dishevelled and potty-mouthed teddy bear that reclaimed Mark Wahlberg’s attention during his midlife crisis in the Seth MacFarlane comedy. This reboot is reconfigured around something more overtly and satirically absurd than usual: it is a movie that mocks the exploitative globalised conditions in which toys are made for complacent consumers in the prosperous west. It makes fun of our infantilised dependence on tech, and there is a very funny gag about Tupac.
Aubrey Plaza plays Karen, a single mom who works at a huge toy store. Her son Andy (Gabriel Bateman) is a lonely kid who is hearing-impaired and gets bullied. They have a nice neighbour, Doreen (Carlease Burke) who is regularly visited by her son Mike (Brian Tyree Henry), a cop.
At work, Karen has to deal with people disappointed with a new creepy “boy” doll called Buddi, which can be programmed to speak spontaneously; his body-camera can record content to be uploaded to the TV, and his face-recognition software makes Buddi puppyishly loyal to his owner.
One particular Buddi doll has had to be taken back because it is behaving oddly; this is because the brutalised factory worker at a Vietnam sweatshop deliberately removed the “appropriate language” filters. So Karen brings him home to give to Andy – and Buddi weirdly starts referring to himself as “Chucky” and takes against Karen’s new red-haired boyfriend.
At first, some cool kids like Chucky – and like Andy too – because Chucky swears. But then gruesome violence ensues. And Andy is still bullied because of his hearing aid, which whistles with feedback like the old-fashioned analogue device it is, obsolete compared to the state-of-the-art digital toy. Andy is the one who feels faulty.
Chucky reminds me of the sinister ventriloquist dummy from Dead of Night but without the ventriloquist. Or perhaps the consumer himself is the impotent ventriloquist, the kid who is encouraged to identify utterly with an uncanny anthropomorphic toy whose purpose is to get you to buy more stuff. Child’s Play bubbles with entertaining bad taste.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Child’s Play review – a razor-sharp and exquisitely gruesome toy story | Horror films