Child's Play (1988)

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Movie Review written by: Born Movie Reviews
RT Critics Rating: 6.8/10

Born Movie Reviews' Rating: 7/10

CHILD'S PLAY (1988) - Tom Holland

Introducing the next generation of children toys: The "Good Guy" dolls. Bearing the breakthrough technology of voice recognition, these dolls make the greatest source of companionship to any fun-seeking child down the street. Poor Andy Barclay does not have enough money to afford one for his birthday. In response, his widowed mother Karen buys a stolen doll from a street peddler. Unfortunately, terror has now moved into the Barclay family, and Andy has found a doll who is in no mood to play.

Child's Play was extremely controversial at its time. During its initial release, crowds of protesters called for a ban on the film, claiming that it incites violence in children. Furthermore, the film to this day remains notorious for leaving frightening impressions on dolls for children. I never look at a doll the same way again. Not after viewing Child's Play. For once, I can destroy Barbie dolls for a legit reason.

Child's Play tells the story of serial killer Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif), who is mortally wounded and chased by Detective Mike Norris (Chris Sarandon). Knowing that he cannot escape, Charles hides in toy store and uses a voodoo ritual to transfer his soul into one of the "Good Guy" dolls. This is the doll that our unlucky protagonists bring to their humble abode. As Andy plays with the doll, the doll introduces himself as Chucky, a name that popular culture today will always refer to the doll when mentioned.

Although its context remains a campy idea, the storyline of Child's Play still bears a sense of originality today, though it might lose its value over time. Given the suspension of disbelief, the film never fails to thrill and scare the audience. Knowing that having a killer doll will bring the meaning of silliness, Child's Play takes advantage of the situation by truly expressing the cliche formula of "the killer never dies." However, this blueprint flunks in countless slasher flicks, notably the Halloween and Friday the 13th franchise. They don't die yet they're still human. If the horror genre defines logic in this world, then I would be merry to let everyone know that I am perfectly stable to withstand over ten gunshots and possibly more than one amputation. Of course, this is illogical and worse, this logic has plagued nearly all slasher films today. Child's Play takes a clever approach to this technique. It efficiently uses the idea that a doll can still operate even with parts missing. The logic is thus methodically avoided. Yet again, one can say that the film is simply taking a loophole around this common flaw. However, believe it or not, this simple avoidance drives the film's atmosphere far more effectively than others.

Going back to the Halloween and Friday the 13th franchises, Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees terrify only by standing and killing. It is not their behavior that does the scaring, but rather their appearances. What are Myers and Voorhees most known for? Their masks. In simple words, they lack a soul and personality. This is another strength that Child's Play uses to its fullest. Brad Dourif, though handicapped as only a voice for Chucky, provides the best voice acting for a villain in a long time. Come to think of it, Dourif's performance is probably one of the best for a slasher killer, even better than Robert Englund portraying Freddy Krueger. Unlike Englund who is able to use his acting talents and on-screen presence, Dourif is limited from the very beginning. As mentioned before, he is restricted to only use his voice yet it is able to bring to life a complete character. Fleshing out Chucky from beginning to end, Dourif has created one of the most monumental horror villains in the world. If compared to other voice acting, Chucky will count in this rather disturbing analogy: Dourif rendering Chucky is the complete foil of Tom Hanks rendering Woody. Discomforting, no? But it's true.

In conclusion, Child's Play bears a nostalgia factor to its value. The film might not stand as a good piece of work in filmmaking, but it never presented itself as one in the first place. It is energetic and briskly paced. Underneath its silly and possibly "dumb" concept, the film has successfully left an impact on the horror genre and ever since has gained a cult following. Chucky is truly an intimidating villain, a feat that can only be pulled off by the one and only Brad Dourif. Assisted with a full convincing cast and an evocative soundtrack, Child's Play will leave an imprint in your mind indefinitely. However, one Child's Play movie is enough for me. For all the sequels that followed, it is not even to be thought about. I played with Chucky once, and I intend to not do it again.


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