Friday, December 15, 2017
Child's Play (1988) Review
Child's Play is a curiously bonkers idea played straight, resulting in a memorably surreal horror.
Using voodoo magic, serial killer Charles Lee Ray transfers his soul into a doll with his final breath. Reincarnated as "Chucky", he seeks to regain human form by taking advantage of his new owner, the hapless 6-year old Andy Barclay.
Brad Dourif is just perfectly cast, both as the deranged murderer and the foulmouthed doll, and it's largely his personality that drives the film, along with the already frightening concept of a malevolent childhood toy.
Alex Vincent is a supremely underrated child actor. Not only is he genuinely good all the way through, but he's even got some badass moments - the scene of him torching Chucky is of course a classic, and I was terrified that somebody told him his dog died when he cried on-screen. The kid deserves all the praise.
Catherine Hicks is lovely as Karen Barclay, who came off extremely natural and caring towards Andy.
Chris Sarandon(more famous for his role as Jack Skellington in The Nightmare Before Christmas) does a solid job as the detective responsible for Ray's death, though his performance is a little onenote.
This is an odd movie in the sense that it goes with the most absurd plot imaginable and actually tries to make it seem tense, like a regular action movie(its structure even resembles The Terminator). It's shocking that all of the leads weren't in the loony bin after starting to tell tall tales about Chucky.
The film might've been genuinely unnerving if Chucky was more malevolent and supernatural, but its his normalcy that gives it the weirdly campy vibe mixed with more traditional elements. Chucky is just *a guy* who happens to be a killer who happens to know voodoo, because plot.
Effects-wise, it's cheap, but cheerful. Lovely animated lightning strikes and early animatronics for the Chuckg puppet. A bit awkward, but nothing serious.
The cult of Chucky began with this cult classic for a reason.