New Chucky

Sympathetic villains can often be intriguing, but sometimes you just can’t beat a straight-up-evil antagonist. While watching the films in the original Child’s Play franchise, I never once stopped and thought, “I sure wish Chucky were more sympathetic!” But that’s apparently exactly what we’re getting in the upcoming Child’s Play remake, at least according to Lars Klevberg. Klevberg says the big change in the new Chucky’s backstory ultimately turns him into something of a tragic figure. Well, that’s certainly…different.

I’m trying to remain cautiously optimistic about the Child’s Play remake. I still thin a remake is unnecessary, especially when original franchise creator Don Mancini is still working on his own Chucky projects. But I have to admit (most of) the Child’s Play remake footage released so far looks promising, and the cast, including Mark Hamill as the voice of Chucky, is strong. One pill I’m finding hard to swallow, though, is the big change in Chucky’s backstory.

In case you’ve somehow never seen a Child’s Play movie, here’s a refresher. Chucky is actually Charles Lee Ray, a serial killer who used voodoo to transport his soul into the body of a doll after being mortally wounded. Sure, it’s a silly, improbable concept, but it worked. The new Child’s Play, however, changes things up. Chucky is no longer a possessed doll. Instead, it’s a doll with A.I. that goes bad. Kind of like the HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey in overalls. While this “killer A.I.” idea isn’t bad, per say, it doesn’t feel like Child’s Play to me.

According to remake director Lars Klevberg, though, this change makes Chucky more interesting. “When I read the script, one of the first things I recognized was that Chucky was a great character in terms of that he changed,” the filmmaker told Collider. “He had his motivations, and it came through his interaction with humans. His way of becoming sympathetic – that was something I really wanted to look into. I viewed the story as a Greek tragedy.” Klevberg goes on to compare the new film to Frankenstein, in terms of the way Chucky begins to question “his purpose once he starts to understand from us human beings.”

All right, I’m starting to get worried here. It’s unfair to get angry at a remake for changing the original, because the best remakes are those that bring something new to the table. But turning Chucky into some kind of tragic, Frankenstein’s monster character misses the entire point of the character. Chucky was a great villain because he was evil, and that was all there was too it. Sure, there was a touch of tragedy in the fact that a grown man was trapped inside of a doll, and constantly trying to get out into a new human body. But the O.G. Chucky was never sympathetic.

I will try to reserve judgement, though. Perhaps this backstory change works in the context of the film. Or perhaps there’s more going on here than meets the eye. We’ll know for sure when Child’s Play opens June 21.

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