NEW YORK — The nicest thing that can be said about the reimagined horror film “Child’s Play” (Orion), it that is just 88 minutes long. Any longer and it could be designated a method of torture.
Perhaps most disturbing about this remake of the 1988 film about a toy doll run amok (which spawned six sequels of its own) is its tone. Director Lars Klevberg, working from a screenplay by Tyler Burton Smith, frames this as a black comedy. The audience is expected to cheer along as “Chucky” (voice of Mark Hamill, straying far, far away from his heroic “Star Wars” persona) goes on a murderous rampage, starting with the family cat.
Awash in sadistic violence and gore, “Child’s Play” is anything but, and should be approached by adult viewers only with caution.
Single mother Karen (Aubrey Plaza) is concerned that her young son, Andy (Gabriel Bateman), is depressed. They recently moved to a new neighborhood and Andy is having trouble making new friends.
At the toy store where Karen works, a customer returns a defective “Buddi” doll. Karen decides to steal it and give it to her son as a companion.
“Welcome to your new best friend,” says Henry Kaslan (Tim Matheson), creator of the chatty artificial-intelligence plaything. Once synched to a cellphone, Buddi bonds with its owner and connects to all devices, effectively controlling the entire home environment.
Unbeknownst to Karen, Andy’s Buddi has been sabotaged by a disgruntled worker in the sweatshop factory in Vietnam. All of his safety protocols have been disabled and this particular doll responds to negative energy. The first warning sign? Its name is Chucky, not Buddi.
It’s not hard to predict what happens next. Chucky’s evil nature emerges whenever Andy is upset or threatened, such as when the cat scratches him, or his mom’s sleazy boyfriend Shane (David Lewis) overstays his welcome.
If there’s a lesson to be learned from the ensuing carnage, it’s the addiction to technology which limits healthy human interaction. For wholesome child’s play, power down and unplug.
The film contains gratuitous bloody violence and gore, sexual banter, partial nudity, frequent crude and profane language, and one obscene gesture. The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.