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Review: Child’s Play – “Mark Hamill is brilliant”

The new take on 80s slasher Child’s Play is directed by Norwegian Lars Klevberg (Polaroid) from a script written by Tyler Burton Smith – who is apparently scribing Kung Fury 2 (eurgh). Mark Hamill (come on) does the voice of the new Chucky and is facing off against Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Rec) and the new Andy, Gabriel Bateman (Light’s Out).

Andy and his mum Karen (Plaza) – WHO WORKS IN A TOY STORE – are scraping by and living in a run-down Chicago block of flats. She’s dating a douche canoe called Shane (David LewisMan of Steel) and Andy is unhappy and lonely. BUT when a customer returns their “Buddi”, a doll that can wirelessly connect to other tech, Karen swipes it before it is sent back and gifts it to Andy as an early Birthday present to cheer him up.

At first, Andy is dismissive of the toy that names itself “Chucky” as he is too old to play with dolls but bored and alone the two are soon fast friends, plus having a Buddi also scores Andy some new human friends, Falyn and Pugg (Beatrice KitsosiZombie and first-timer Ty Consiglio). As Andy bonds with them, Chucky begins to become jealous as he is no longer Andy’s best friend and  – combined with some bad wiring that we’ll get to in a sec – embarks on a killing spree.

The new Chucky looks awful. The first time he is seen on screen pretty much my entire audience recoiled at how ugly the design is and I thought “Oh no, this is going to be a disaster” BUT the film IMMEDIATELY leans hard into this and lets us know that THEY KNOW that the new Chucky looks like a Cabbage Patch doll that has had his make-up applied with a brick. The genius part of the new Chucky – and the film tbh – is casting Mark Hamill as his new voice.

I will not say a bad word about the OG Chuck, Brad Dourif, but he was doing the voice of a serial killer possessing a doll – Hamill is voicing a Chucky that is an A.I. made to be its owners best friend and make them happy who just so happens to have been made in a Vietnamese sweatshop by a disgruntled employee who removes all the toy’s safety protocols and then kills himself. That’s why gardening leave is a thing, folks.

So this Chucky has a fall from grace, beginning factory reset pure and driven to kill by being mistreated, unloved and watching Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (I’m not kidding), and Hamill makes us FEEL for him. It’s sad and he hasn’t done anything wrong and he just wants to love and be loved, so when he starts knifing everyone you actually feel conflicted. He may be circular sawing dudes and ripping off faces but because Mark Hamill is brilliant – providing not just a voice, but an impressively nuanced performance – you really LIKE this little twitchy and glitchy animatronic Alexa with realistic stabbing action.

And the kills are so much fun! The pint-sized psycho is an inventive little blighter and also has some cracking one-liners. The gore may at times be Saw-like but it is shot through with a huge amount of humour that had everyone laughing and whooping at the carnage. Comeuppances are come-upped and a bravura finale set-piece sees Chucky take control of a toy store’s worth of gadgets vs. a baying midnight opening crowd. It is all very satisfying.

It may lack the cruel power and initial nasty shocks of the original, and obviously Don Mancini’s (fab) run of films does not even exist in this particular dojo, but it is very funny and very gory, and if they give it a chance, fans will really dig the new Child’s Play and have a blast playing with Mark Hamill’s upgraded new Chucky.

Child’s Play is released in the UK on the 21st of June.

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