“Friends ’til the end” must take on a new meaning in this remake.
When I was a kid, I was constantly led to believe that the Chucky doll would be the scariest thing in the world. It didn’t help that he does look like a demon incarnate in every production still and poster out there. Because of that, I elected not to experience the Child’s Play franchise in any capacity until I was much older. Chucky just looks eerie, and as a youngster with an overactive imagination, that’s where this exaggerated humanoid thing holds a lot of power.
Imagine my surprise to then find out that silliness is an integral part of the original Child’s Play narrative. The first movie frankly has an utterly ridiculous conceit, and it’s a wonder that it actually worked. Although, we do have Brad Dourif’s impeccable voice acting, as well as some commendable practical effects to thank for that, too. In Child’s Play, the story is both madcap and simple: a tiny doll, who is currently inhabited by a serial killer well-versed in voodoo, terrorizes the family that unwittingly takes him in.
We’ve been unable to avoid the Chucky doll since, due to the fact that the 1988 film spawned six sequels and two short films. And the franchise as a whole shows no sign of letting up. Child’s Play creator Don Mancini is even up for making a television series based on the property. Now, Collider has revealed further plans have been brewing for the Chucky IP. The Child’s Play franchise will be getting a modern-day makeover courtesy of the producers behind the latest adaptation of IT.
Set in contemporary times, the new Child’s Play will focus on a group of kids who come across a “technologically advanced” doll. The film will be directed by newcomer Lars Klevberg from a script by Tyler Burton Smith, who is most well-known for writing the video game Quantum Break.
Details about the reboot’s plot are sketchy for the time being, but there seems to be a strong emphasis on a kind of Stranger Things-esque camaraderie that will feature in the movie. The rampant reemergence and popularization of 1980s themes continue to have an iron grip on the media, but that may add a fresh spin to the Child’s Play franchise anyway. Just how many “friends” will Chucky get to torment this time?
Given the legacy of the Chucky brand, the big question surrounding any reboot of Child’s Play is whether or not this new doll will be another incarnation of Chucky or an entirely different toy altogether. The prospects of the latter aren’t entirely absurd, seeing as studios have been conscious about overstepping their boundaries recently when it comes to IP with steady followings. For example, Amazon’s Lord of the Rings adaptation may turn out to be more of a prequel than a direct remake, despite it banking not only on J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous book series but also the lauded cinematic adaptations that Peter Jackson brought to the big screen in the early 2000s.
Furthermore, Mancini’s TV show will inevitably exist, and Dourif is reportedly lined up to keep voicing the demented doll in serial form. Presumably without the help of these key players in the original series, a good way for filmmakers to reasonably tinker with the Child’s Play universe is to start from scratch.
Nevertheless, since the Child’s Play brand is so inherently linked to Chucky, this could prove a challenge. It would still be valuable to keep the focus of the remake trained on him. The verdict is still out on whether a techy version of a creepy doll sounds like a good idea, but the concept does have potential. Synced up to smartphones, maybe Chucky gets the opportunity to leap into the internet and infiltrate other toys or devices, expanding the Child’s Play lore into one giant infection story. Or maybe that still sounds too tame when compared against the fact that this franchise also features two dolls having a baby.
There is always the possibility that a Child’s Play reboot would revisit some of the darker themes that the original film teased out. The franchise has built its brand on humor with each passing sequel. The insidiousness of possession and the distinct amorality found in the Chucky character are practically celebrated in the films, with the doll becoming kind of delightful in his antagonism. Like how Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead trilogy morphed into an all-out horror comedy by the time of Army of Darkness, the outrageous aspects of over-the-top violence continue to be milked to full effect in Mancini’s cinematic universe. That said, Evil Dead did go dark again with Fede Alvarez to amazing results.
It’s worth noting that Mancini’s TV series aims for a “dark and disturbing” tone, so going serious wouldn’t necessarily set the Child’s Play reboot apart. However, reconfiguring the franchise in a distinctly modern-day setting while embracing the potential of kid cliques may drag it out of cult popularity. Hell, maybe a new Child’s Play will actually shake up the market of doll possession movies and give the Annabelle series a run for its money. In such an unpredictable series, the world of Child’s Play is our oyster.