In the classic 1988 horror film Child’s Play, a single mom named Karen gives her son Andy a doll as a present, with both unaware that the doll — named Chucky — is possessed by the spirit of a dead serial killer. The movie was a hit and Chucky (voiced by Brad Dourif) became an instant horror icon and star of six more sequels.
Now in 2019, Hollywood craves reboots and Child’s Play is getting its turn, albeit without the involvement of Dourif or creator Don Mancini. In the new version, directed by Lars Klevberg from a screenplay by Tyler Burton Smith, the set-up is the same: Karen (Aubrey Plaza) gives Andy (Gabriel Bateman) a “Buddi” doll, nicknamed Chucky (and now voiced by Mark Hamill). But the doll is not possessed; instead, it’s a smart toy whose safety protocols have been turned off by a vengeful factory worker, turning Chucky into a killer who wants to be Andy’s only friend…to the end.
“Chucky is such an iconic character and I thought it was such a clever reimagining of the character,” says Plaza in our interview below about why she decided to star in a horror movie for the first time. “I liked the idea that in this movie, technology is the villain and the idea that your smart device can turn on you is something that I found really fascinating.”
The theme of technology turning against us is not a new one, but as our devices, toys and computers become more intuitive, the idea that we are utterly dependent on them — even if they become nefarious — is a timely one. “We’re too reliant on our technology,” adds Plaza. “We’re too trustworthy, and these things are going to kill us in the end. They’re already starting to, slowly.”
Co-star Brian Tyree Henry (Joker) agrees that we are finding ourselves more and more at the mercy of technology, and helpless to stop as we buy each new device: “Think about the toys we have now, our Airpods and phones and all these different things. And the whole concept of consumerism — like, what does that mean? You can only consume so much until it consumes you.”
In other words, beware of lifelike robot dolls that only want to be your best friend — no matter what it takes. Child’s Play is out in theaters tomorrow (Friday, June 21).
Don Kaye is a Los Angeles-based entertainment journalist and associate editor of Den of Geek. Other current and past outlets include Syfy, United Stations Radio Networks, Fandango, MSN, RollingStone.com and many more. Read more of his work here. Follow him on Twitter @donkaye