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31 Days of Halloween

Horror remakes aren’t just Child’s Play

The ‘Child’s Play’ remake is better than it has any right to be.

Welcome to today’s installment of 31 Days of Halloween! This is our chance to set the mood for the spookiest and scariest month of the year as we focus our attention on horror and Halloween fun. For the month of October we’ll be talking to creators working in horror and share and recommend various pieces of underappreciated scary media-books, comics, movies, and television-to help keep you terrified and entertained all the way up to Halloween.

Remakes in Hollywood have gone from being cool to being funny. Somewhere along the line they became frustrating before circling around to being cool again. Then, they just became irrelevant. Reboots, remakes, and retreads have become an accepted part of the studio process.


Horror remakes have always been a little different, however. Horror fans are a very passionate audience. Whereas the casual moviegoer may laugh about another Friday the 13th reboot, loyal  fans of the genre will have argue about the pros and cons. It may seem silly, but it has also lead to some surprising comebacks.

Child’s Play from 2019 is a great example. Jason, Freddy Kruger, and Michael Myers are villainous icons. How popular was Chuckie from 1988’s Child’s Play? Do not let the franchise fool you. The killer doll is a few tiers below Jigsaw (who is well beneath the horror legends) and barely above Evil Bong. Despite apparently being in no horror fan’s top ten, the movie and character were still popular enough for a 21st century remake.

Fans of horror are a forgiving bunch. Things like lack of story and character development are glossed over as long as the movie delivers enough gory fun. That being said, they care deeply for their favorites. It is why Rob Zombie is vilified by some for his Halloween remake and why Fede Alvarez’s take on Evil Dead is so appreciated. Child’s Play may not have as high a standing in the horror community, but people were paying attention to the remake.

As with any remake, the audience does not necessarily expect it to be as good. It just has to do the story justice. The new Child’s Play will please fans of the original for a variety of reasons. It is the rare remake that is actually better than the source material. It also treats the story more seriously than it ever has been.

Child’s Play has always been more about comedy than horror. Sure, Nightmare on Elm Street is funny, but it is nowhere near as goofy. The 2019 remake is not as cynical as expected. (This is a franchise about a killer doll and voodoo.) Instead, it is a horror movie that actually wants to be scary.

The premise helps greatly. This is no longer a story about a dark soul being transferred. It is a twisted tale of protection and misplaced friendship. Many horror remakes try to distance themselves from the originals by adding confusing lore changing the backstory entirely. Child’s Play decides to add depth to its characters. It is a surprising decision that works wonderfully.

The biggest change is to Chuckie himself. His motives were easily explained away in the 1988 version. The soul of a serial killer is transferred into a doll. In 2019, the maniacal toy is given a story arc. He becomes a killer by learning and does so to protect Andy. Not necessarily groundbreaking, but very effective.

The special effects are excellent in the film. The puppet work on Chuckie is fantastic. Of course, this is a movie about a killer doll, so the biggest question becomes how effective are the kills? Child’s Play manages to be gory and creepy. There are some neat kills that will give fans exactly what they are looking for.

Horror remakes are held up to a lot of scrutiny. Not only is there the normal judgement from regular theater goers, there is the careful examination from fans of the genre. Child’s Play from 2019 holds up well. It is one of the better horror movie remakes out there.

Is it good?
A more serious attitude leads to a remake that is scarier and more engaging than anything from the source material.
Mark Hamill's take on Chuckie is distinct and awesome
Silly premise is treated seriously
Touches on technophobia before just dropping it
7.5
Good
Buy Now
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