Director: Tom Holland
Cast: Brad Dourif, Catherine Hicks, Alex Vincent, Chris Sarandon
Plot: A dying serial killer (Dourif) is reborn as a child’s doll, using his harmless appearance to wreak havoc undetected.
Charles Lee Ray, a serial killer known for strangling his victims, is chased through the street by Chris Sarandon’s handsomely rugged cop. His partner abandons him, he is shot in the leg and eventually meets his demise in a toy factory after a last stand. But, as he bleeds out in the toy department, he manages to pass on his soul, using a voodoo religion that fuels his desire to murder, to a children’s doll. And hence, yet another iconic 80s horror icon was born.
Chucky’s main problem is how ridiculous its main villain is. An audience needs to be thoroughly convinced before they can believe that a child’s toy can cause them serious harm. In fairness, to this original Child’s Play movie, it does succeed in making Chucky a genuine threat, rather than a goofy horror comedy icon. However, in putting time into building up this sense of dread and depth, there is little time to make him overly scary. Viewers suffering pediophobia (fear of dolls), will likely be haunted by this miniature and eerily persistent killer, but everyone else will only be slightly spooked by Chucky’s antics. While he has some solid chilling moments, like the odd scuttle across a set or a knife slashing through the driver’s seat of the car, there are too many moments where he is frantically slashing in a vague direction, before being booted a few feet away from his victim. Tom Holland deserves praise for making the script of Child’s Play as gripping as it is. There is some fun to be had in the build-up before we see Chucky move. We know he is behind the events, but for a long while, he is hidden behind the cutesy toy façade, trying to convince the suspecting protagonists that he is little more than an animatronic doll. However, when he does finally reveal his true identity, the special effects, bringing his face to life is surprisingly effective. Perhaps Chucky is scariest, when he is simply delivering dialogue. There is something about Brad Dourif’s sneering dialogue coupled with the malicious grin that does give rise to some goosebumps. Child’s Play is definitely nowhere as bad as its odd premise sells it out to be; I assume the multiple sequels see Chucky become a more comical figure over time. But here, the oddness doesn’t jar too much, the ridiculousness of Chucky actually one more weapon up his sleeve. In all horror movies, there is always that character who denies the killer’s existence up until his demise. When the killer is a toy, you actually cannot blame the doubting supporting cast. Child’s Play is never any more than smoothly entertaining, but there is nothing wrong with light horror, especially ones that climax in a glorious battle that keeps on bringing its demented killer back from the dead.
Final Verdict: A light horror movie treat that is surprisingly fun for such a silly premise.