Chucky gets a high-tech upgrade in a Child’s Play reboot that’s a lot more fun than cynical horror fans could have expected.

The original Child’s Play arrived in 1988 when the slasher movie cycle had all but expired. The story of a Good Guy doll possessed by the spirit of a vicious serial killer (Brad Dourif) was an instant hit that spawned two sequels, a Bride, a Seed, a Curse, and a Cult.

The franchise is still alive and well and hardly in need of rebooting, but that’s never stopped Hollywood and now Chucky has been remodelled as a Buddi doll – the must-have Wi-Fi enabled toy capable of interconnecting with other products from tech company Kaslan Corp. Consider Child’s Play 2019 as a digital cover version of the analogue original.

After a bullied factory worker disables the safety software of one particular doll, the defective model finds its way into the hands of hearing-impaired 13-year-old Andy (Gabriel Bateman), who lives with his widowed mother (Aubrey Plaza) in a rundown apartment block.

Andy is a little freaked by his creepy new friend’s interactive – and overprotective – nature, and his concerns are justified when his scratch-happy pet cat and mother’s obnoxious boyfriend meet a bloody end at the hands of the doll. And that’s just the beginning of a bodycount that continues to rise, implicating Andy despite his insistence that, of course, ” Chucky did it…”    

Successfully remaking horror classics depends on an alternative take on the source material, and while the new Child’s Play doesn’t stray too far from the original, it does enough differently to make the revisit worthwhile. Chucky’s ability to turn other connected devices into killing machines is an inspired addition that isn’t overused – his weapon of choice remains a big butcher’s knife, and a screening of Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 with Andy and his pals provides a few grisly pointers.   

Fans will be relieved to discover the FX remain largely practical: the new puppet is incredibly expressive, and while Brad Dourif is missed, Mark Hamill provides more than mere novelty value as the voice of Chucky, investing the doll with a huge personality – you might even find yourself empathising with the murderous mannikin!

The fact that Child’s Play is opening in cinemas on the same day as Toy Story 4 hasn’t been lost on the studio, with several cheeky teaser posters doing the rounds, and while it’s obvious which toys will win the battle at the box office, don’t underestimate Chucky’s ability to make a substantial killing.

In cinemas: June 20, 2019
Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Mark Hamill, Gabriel Bateman
Directed by: Lars Klevberg