Child's Play remake

This week, I had the chance to get an early look at a scene from the upcoming Child’s Play remake, which just released a brand new trailer. I also spoke with director Lars Klevberg and producers Seth Grahame-Smith and David Katzenberg about why they wanted to modernize a popular horror character, their approach to the new story, and more.

Check out our description of the scene and their quotes below, including some brief updates about Grahame-Smith’s rumored Fantastic Four script and the feature-length Kung Fury film.

The Reason for Remaking Child’s Play

The producers are well aware that many fans of this franchise bristled at the initial news of their remake. “Believe me, we get hate mail all the time from people. ‘Why remake this? Why reboot this?’ There has to be a reason other than, ‘It’s been twenty years,’ Katzenberg told me. “It was important to us that there be a ‘why’ to creating a new version of a beloved horror character,” Grahame-Smith explained to the group of gathered journalists. As you can see in the trailers, the filmmakers found their “why” in the form of technology.

“Right away, we were like, ‘We have to do something about technology,’” Katzenberg revealed. “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 That felt kind of outdated, especially when kids are walking around with iPhones.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.”

And while the Chucky in the original film is imbued with the soul of a twisted serial killer, that plot is nowhere to be found this time around. “The first one is Charles Ray, aka Chucky, getting shot, the master of voodoo getting trapped inside this doll,” Klevberg told me. “There’s nothing of that [in this film]. 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.”

He also says they made the movie “as practical as possible, which meant we were going to use animatronics as much as possible.” That might make some fans breathe a bit easier about this remake, and though that approach ended up being challenging, Klevberg feels like the tactile nature helped the actors get into the spirit of things during filming.

Child's Play Chucky Knife

Chucky Learns a Lesson (Or Does He?)

After we got an early look at the trailer yesterday, the filmmakers showed us a quick scene from the new film. Here’s what we saw.

A young boy named Andy (Gabriel Bateman) sits in his room, playing a board game with his toy pal Chucky. They’re laughing and goofing around, and I was pleased to hear the score not taking the Stranger Things approach with stylish nods to 1980s pop culture, but instead wrapping around the scene like a warm blanket…and then the horror creeps in.

A board game piece falls onto the floor. When Andy reaches down to grab it, his cat bites his hand, causing him to wince and pull back. “What’s that?” Chucky asks, as blood drips down Andy’s hand. The doll is genuinely concerned, and Andy admits that he’s hurt, grumbling about being sick of the cat as he goes into the other room to get a bandage. As soon as Andy walks away, Chucky looks at the cat and his eyes turn red. Uh oh. The camera stays with Andy in the other room as he cleans himself up, but we start to hear cat noises coming from the bedroom, and when Andy returns, Chucky is angrily choking the cat. Andy intervenes and the cat is set free, but the boy has to explain that Chucky shouldn’t hurt people (or cats). Then a man (possibly his step-dad?) appears at the bedroom door, telling Andy that the cat is going nuts and before he walks away, he demands that Andy clean up his room. Andy sort of rolls his eyes, looks back at Chucky, and says something along the lines of “Well, maybe except for that guy.” It’s a sarcastic remark, but Andy may have just signed the man’s death warrant.

Terminator 2

The Influence of Terminator 2

If that description sounds like this scene from Terminator 2: Judgment Day, it doesn’t seem like that was by accident. Klevberg, who is from Norway, told me that T2 is his favorite movie of all time, and while he didn’t purposefully shout-out to James Cameron’s classic sci-fi sequel in the framing of his scene, he admits that he may have subconsciously referenced it. Katzenberg says they all talked about classic Amblin-era movies for inspiration, and admits that T2 conversations did come up along the way. But Grahame-Smith was the biggest proponent of the T2 comparison:

“I always think about Terminator 2 in almost any project I work on, just because I feel like that’s one of the most perfectly structured scripts of all time. There’s so many lessons to be learned from it. But yeah, the two things I can’t help but think of when I watch that scene are Eddie Furlong saying to Arnold, ‘You can’t just kill people!’ [Does Arnold impression] ‘Why?’ It has that same sort of vibe to me – not that I’m comparing our movie to T2, that’s not at all what I’m trying to do. And then you think of E.T., because of the way that scene looks. And let’s not forget the fact that he’s wearing a red hoodie in that scene. The reason we showed you guys that scene was really to underscore where Chucky is coming from at the beginning of the movie, what the relationship is: it’s a true friendship that then becomes corrupted and turns into a life or death situation…If we ever get to do a sequel, maybe we’ll go full T2.”

Kung Fury movie

Updates On Other Assorted Projects

A couple of years ago, a report came out suggesting that Seth Grahame-Smith was writing a kid-friendly take on the Fantastic Four. I asked for an update on that, and he wasn’t about its potential in the wake of Disney’s acquisition of Fox:

“There is a project that I actually don’t know if I’m really able to talk about or not, but we did develop it at Fox, it was Fantastic Four-related, and I could not for the life of me tell you what the fate of it is going to be.”

And finally, I asked about the progress on the feature-length version of Kung Fury, the gloriously ludicrous, ‘80s-inspired action short film from a few years ago. Grahame-Smith and Katzenberg are producing the feature version, which is set to co-star Michael Fassbender and might even include Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Grahame-Smith says that one should be coming soon:

“We’re hopefully close to starting that movie. We’re just locking in some actor dates, but for us, that’s the next real production that we’re jumping into. That’s a big priority. Again, we’re trying to assemble a surprisingly great cast. You, knowing that short, will know that movie will be…I won’t even know how to pitch it or describe it. David [Sandberg], our director, is really trying to [step it up]. He plays Kung Fury, he’s one of the writers of this feature, he’s obviously the director of the feature. He’s trying to take what he did in half an hour and explode it into true insanity. I think he’s going to do it. That hopefully will start in the next couple of months.”

Child’s Play hits theaters on June 21, 2019, and we’ll have to wait until then to see where it lands in our ranking of the entire franchise.

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