Review: Child’s Play (1988)

With the announcement that Mark Hamill will take over the role of Chucky in 2019’s reboot of Child’s Play, it seemed only fair that I went back and looked at the original. I must say that this film has to be deemed a classic because it’s a film that keeps on giving, especially for its time period. Child’s Play became a trilogy which stemmed into the Bride of Chucky as well as The Seed of Chucky – and it never lost its original spark.

The creators really used every effort to drain the little serial killer doll as a character that it created a nostalgia that incorporated so many challenging points of views and stereotypes that also kept the storyline smooth. For example, although the character did die in the beginning, Maggie challenged not only a man who was selling her friend, Karen Barclay, the Good Guys doll we would soon learn is Chucky, but also their head manager who was also a male. Although Karen pursued the female expectation of submission, Maggie was the one who planted the seed of independence and female dominance for the era of the film. Not only this, but Karen is a single mother who although struggles to provide the happiness for her child, does what is best and essentially takes control of the whole situation with Chucky before the police could even think of doing so. As for stereotypes, there’s the typical darker skinned character who is associated with some form of magic and witchcraft that is the reason why Chucky was created in the first place, seen as the creator of the horror show even though it was a lighter skinned man who used and abused the power he had learnt.

I did a little bit of research on Chucky, especially because there is no way they used a doll for the entirety of the movie, because that’s a lot of effort. As it turns out, Ed Gale took the efforts of being dressed as Chucky to recreate his movements in scenes where using a doll was too difficult. In fact, the scene where Chucky ends up being melted to a blackened, charred mess, Gale was on fire for that too. The efforts that went into creating this film was extended for the time period it was created – nowadays we have the resources and CGI to make horror a true dark film, but to think that Chucky was an original film that set off a chain of future ‘doll horrors’ which we have now come to know is just fantastic in my opinion.

For a horror movie made in the time it was, especially since our villain wasn’t one that could simply be played out by anyone behind a mask, it still holds to this day. Using classic techniques such as seeing through the eyes of the villain, or lightning in dark days, Child’s Play unleashed a killer that honestly haunted my dreams as a kid. It was the perfect amount of subtle in the beginning which led to a big ending – which, let’s be honest, wouldn’t have been that big without the cinematic techniques which accompanied it. The truth is that Chucky is just a doll that runs around with a knife trying to kill people, which you’d think would be easy to handle with especially if there’s no real supernatural being accompanying it, as we see in recent films like Annabelle. In fact, the original film did not express any amount of gore which the reboot promises with the official rating being ‘R’.

What a lot of people don’t seem to understand is that thrillers or slasher films like this don’t need blood and gore to be suspenseful and scary. Horror movies tap into one’s fear – which doesn’t need to be everyone’s fear – and bring out the worst of it. I wouldn’t personally call this horror, as it did have its funny moments where I could giggle at the extremity of, but I wouldn’t say that is a bad film that fails at doing what it’s targeted to at all, especially for its time of creation.

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