Review: Child’s Play

Mark Hamill in “Child’s Play.”
Mark Hamill in “Child’s Play.”

Alienated teenager Andy (Gabriel Bateman) receives an AI-enhanced doll named Chucky (Mark Hamill). The two quickly bond, despite the doll’s obviously sinister looks. Soon, Chucky is off on a rollicking murder spree, stabbing, lacerating, bludgeoning and amputating his way through the film’s trim 90-minute runtime. Here, at least, is a worthy addition to the genre of killer-doll movies.

“Child’s Play” rides the line between horror-comedy and outright comedy. An R rating allows director Lars Klevberg to get his hands dirty with a series of preposterous kills, climaxing with a scene in which an adorable kindergartener in a pink dress is sprayed with a fountain of gore. The film is set in the present, but occupies an odd, ’80s-inflected space, where all the furniture is vintage and 13-year-olds decorate their rooms with posters for 30-year-old movies.

Chucky himself occupies the uncomfortable role of being a throwback to the ’80s as well as an indictment of smart technology. Murders are accomplished with driverless cars and drones, yet Chucky still looks like a Cabbage Patch Kid. Klevberg makes numerous stabs at satire, all of them totally risible. Like anyone with a Facebook account, Andy is in an unwholesome partnership with a technology he doesn’t fully understand, but this most obvious avenue for satire is left mainly unexplored. Oh well — at least we can still watch a man being fed face-first into a lawnmower.