'Child's Play' Early Buzz: Chucky's Back, But Is He Still Scary?

The original Child's Play came out 31 years ago, and was about a doll named Chucky who was imbued with the soul of a twisted serial killer. Now it's 2019 and the doll is back in a new reboot, but as director Lars Klevberg (Polaroid) told me a few months ago, "This is a different take. That was one of the biggest things for me, why I wanted to jump on this, because it meant that I could create Chucky as a character looking at the world for the first time."

The film recently screened for critics in New York, Austin, and Los Angeles, and reviews are starting to arrive. So what's the word? Does this version of Chucky work, or should he have stayed in the box? Check out the Child's Play early buzz below.

Child's Play Early Buzz

Our full review will be published on /Film soon, but in the meantime, our own Jacob Hall caught an early screening and tweeted his reaction:

Meanwhile, here's how several other critics responded to the new film.

In his review for We Got This Covered, frequent /Film contributor Matt Donato writes:

Child's Play is funniest when it shouldn't be, unsuccessfully frightful, and never the Mr. Robotdiversion that Chucky 2.0 deserves. You'll glimpse slight homages down to lightning bolts during the film's opening scene reminiscent to 1989's theatrical Child's Play poster, but 2019's update feels like a product that misunderstands what's so special about Don Mancini's knee-high monster. Lars Klevberg doesn't boast distinct signatures throughout Child's Play, making a somewhat hamstrung slasher even more uninteresting through relative blandness.

Meanwhile, Coming Soon is far kinder with its very positive review:

This Child's Playwas deeply unsettling – because it is so close to reality. It is a little hyperbolic, but let's face it: machines run our lives, and sometimes there are terrifying consequences. Remember when Alexas would randomly start laughing for no reason? If that was an ambulatory doll, you would be dead. Director Lars Klevberg does a great job of slowly ramping up the crazy in his version of Chucky.

Elsewhere, Empire took issue with the film's very dumb characters:

But the chief issue is in the reimagining of Chucky himself as a robot doll. Removing the supernatural possession element that powered the original is all well and good, and there are nice ideas about Chucky being able to link up with the cloud and other devices, but they're never fully explored. More fatally, what we have here is a film populated by people so dense that they don't take the batteries out of the doll the second it malfunctions. And when that happens, the film soon malfunctions with it.

But because these reviews are simply all over the place, Little White Lies gave the film a positive notice:

While the body count is relatively low for this franchise, the death scenes are inventive and entertainingly gruesome. Yet if the film earns its R-rating with aplomb, it benefits from not piling on the schlock and gore, allowing Andy's (and Chucky's) story plenty of breathing space within its tight 88-minute runtime.

Consequence of Sound was impressed by Mark Hamill's performance:

Much of that endearment, however, stems from Hamill's delightful voice work and the special effects team that created such an expressive doll. When Chucky is upset by Andy's disappointment or elated by his happiness, the doll is genuinely moving. In some respects, it's almost too effective, seeing how Chucky proves to be a better emotional tether to the story than his main victim, Andy.

When I spoke with the filmmakers, they were adamant about finding a new reason to tell this story beyond just rehashing familiar intellectual property. "Right away, we were like, 'We have to do something about technology,' producer David Katzenberg explained. "In this day and age too, who's going to buy a doll for a kid that's just, like, a doll? That felt kind of outdated, especially when kids are walking around with iPhones. I have a little girl and we have a Nest camera, and we keep hearing about those cameras getting hacked into. Those fears that seem to be universal, actually having that play a part in this film was meaningful to us."

If nothing else, it seems as if they succeeded in approaching this story from a whole new angle, and I'll be curious to see how the wider horror community reacts to this one.

After moving to a new city, young Andy Barclay receives a special present from his mother — a seemingly innocent Buddi doll that becomes his best friend. When the doll suddenly takes on a life of its own, Andy unites with other neighborhood children to stop the sinister toy from wreaking bloody havoc.

Child's Play opens in theaters on June 21, 2019.