*. They had some good ideas. The doll is now called a Buddi, with the “i” presumably being a nod toward its connectivity to the Internet of Things, all of which are products of the Kaslan Corporation. So this isn’t just going to be a remake of 1988’s Child’s Play but a real Child’s Play 2.0.
*. Something decent might have come of this. Nothing does.
*. Take the origin story. The evil doll isn’t possessed by the spirit of a serial killer but is instead the result of a disturbed worker on the floor of the Buddi assembly plant in Vietnam simply disabling the software’s safety features. Without trying to be glib or facetious, the voodoo stuff from the earlier films actually made more sense.
*. When Chucky (he picks the name, without explanation, for himself) is unboxed things get worse. The design of the doll is terrible. It looks like a forty-year-old man (meaning it might actually be the original Chucky, just having aged naturally). I can understand wanting to go in a new direction, away from the iconic figure of the earlier films, but couldn’t they have come up with something better than this? And the voice, by Mark Hamill, has none of the personality of Brad Dourif’s psycho killer. Which I guess makes sense, because he really doesn’t have a personality yet, but Chucky is supposed to be a mean S.O.B. (to borrow from Roger Ebert). He’s not supposed to be Siri or Alexa behaving badly.
*. A further thought on this: Do we even need a back story involving the safety measures being taken off of the AI? Isn’t properly functioning AI scary enough, given how it controls our lives in so many ways, big and small?
*. Even so, all was not lost. Gabriel Bateman as Andy and Aubrey Plaza as his mom Karen are both good. The idea of Chucky being corrupted by violent video games and slasher films that he later imitates is clever. Having Chucky act out Andy’s own repressed desires, becoming his unleashed id in the manner of The Brood, is actually how Don Mancini had originally concieved of their relationship. That might have been interesting too. But nothing is done with all of this. Instead we just get another machine run amok.
*. The earlier films skipped freely from comedy to horror, and that’s something that I think they tried to duplicate here. Unfortunately, the tonal shifts just left me feeling lost. Sure it’s fun seeing the jerky boyfriend being killed, but then the murder of the detective’s mother is thrown in and it’s not clear whether this is supposed to be funny too or if we’re supposed to be taking things seriously now.
*. I was surprised at the number of reviews that took exception to the gore. There’s really very little. And the biggest kill is played for laughs: a loser of a maintenance man falling on top of a table saw, with his crotch landing right on the blade. This would have been funny but for the fact that it’s telegraphed way too far in advance (after Chucky has already stabbed the same victim in the groin already), and makes no sense. The man could have easily swung from the pipe he was holding so that he would land to either side of the saw. That would have been the simplest thing in the world to do. But instead he just drops straight down. It’s exasperating when a movie sets up a big moment like this and then has it depend on a character being so stupid that the whole thing becomes unbelievable.
*. So it’s disappointing. I was honestly thinking they had the chance to do something interesting with the ideas they had in play here, but the movie doesn’t go anywhere and indeed the whole second half is a bore. The climax made me feel like I was back in the 1990s again, only having less fun.