Film Corner: Child's Play

Let's have a nice Friday #KissmateWatches! I've been feeling up to a good scare, so we'll be popping in Child's Play (1988) directed by Tom Holland. Yes, the old Chucky doll movie! No, not the shitty "remake". This is such a good Horror/Slasher classic! However, not everything holds up to today's critiques. Will Chucky be binned, or will he be our friend 'til the end? Let's Find Out!

We start off with Detective Norris chasing down Charles Lee Ray, the Lakeshore Strangler, in a gunfight inside a toy store. It ends with Chucky putting his soul into a doll before succumbing to his wounds. You know, a typical third Tuesday for Chicago. We fade to Andy who is waking his mother with (burnt) breakfast in bed because it's his 6th birthday! In all honesty, this kid is cute. His dialogue, actions, reactions--this movie makes sure you know this kid is nothing more than an adorable 6 year old.

His mother (Karen) is the only other person in this apartment. She clearly loves her son and would do anything to make him happy. The problem is her job barely pays the bills. So getting him a $100 doll he really wants? Sounds like a pipe dream! Karen's coworker and friend (Maggie) manages to save the day! Sounds like a peddler is just outside the store with the doll Andy wants! And he's only asking for half the price! The day is saved!

Karen is forced to work that night, but Maggie agrees to babysit Andy so she doesn't have to worry. Andy is already playing with the doll, Chucky, though it seems Chucky is more interested in watching TV. How very odd. The fun part about this movie is how they set up this tension. Everything is slow and carefully framed so we don't have to see who's moving the chair or darting past the doorway. Is it Andy? Or the doll? Or something else?

Another neat thing is how we DON'T want to see anyone die! Maggie is the best friend that washes the dishes when she comes over. The detective is an ass, but he genuinely wants these murders to stop. Karen is a mother who's protective of her son. No Jerks Here! Alas, Maggie "has an accident" and falls out of a window to her death. Karen comes home to police swarming her apartment and asking her kid a lot of questions. She White-Womans at them to make them leave, but it's obvious Norris is looking at Andy as a suspect.

Here we have another example of Andy behaving pretty normal for his age: He talks as if Chucky has wants. "Chucky wants to know what's going on." "Chucky was on the counter!" "I was talking to Chucky. His name is Charles Lee Ray." Andy gets sent to school the next day, but he instead leaves the school grounds and rides the train to a run-down building with Chucky in tow. He puts Chucky down for a bit, and it's enough time for Chucky to slip away and roam the building on his own.

Turns out, this is the hideout of Charles Lee Ray's partner, the one who abandoned him the night he died. Which is why Chucky sets it up for it to go BOOM. And boom goes the partner, too. Andy gets picked up by the cops, and since there's now two murders he's connected to, they need to keep him at the station for a few days to make sure he's not involved with any others.Karen isn't thrilled, but she's worried the alternative is far worse. (CPS? Jail? It's unclear, but it can't be good.)

The relationship between Andy and Chucky is really interesting. We see everything as an outsider, so Chucky is very still and quiet. We can't seen him talk yet on-screen; we only get his side from Andy leaning in to hear his "whispers" and then repeating his words to the adults. If you don't already know this is a movie about a possessed doll, it's genuinely hard to say if Andy is pretending or not.

...Of course that stops almost entirely right after Karen sees that the doll has no batteries and he calls her a "stupid bitch". Then, Chucky bites the shit out of her arm, runs out the door, and takes an elevator to freedom. Don't think Andy is pretending anymore! I love that Karen acts pretty much like the white woman you think she would. She cusses out the cops with a tone that is demanding both their manager and their attention at the same time. It doesn't work, but that doesn't stop her from trying!

Karen gets sent home, but not after getting Chucky's old home address. While she secretly heads there, Norris gets attacked by Chucky in his car. It's pretty tense! It's like fighting a rabid squirrel while you're trying to drive down the highway. Not easy! Now to the awkward part of the movie: the magic Chucky uses is "Voodoo". This is a lot more respectful than most depictions I've seen, but it's still a white man learning voodoo magic from a Black man. At least the Black man denounces Chuck's evil ways?

As a white person who's not in Louisiana, I know I'm not qualified to talk about this. If they actually did a good job with the religion, I'd love to hear about it! But I'm just going to end this by saying that the portrayal made me feel a touch uncomfortable. Chucky goes to his mentor for some advise, but John isn't helping. "You've perverted everything I taught you and you used it for evil!" Unfortunately, Chucky has a.... well, a voodoo doll of John. He uses it to torture the answers out of him. And then kill him.

Karen and Norris make it to the scene, but they're too late. John's last words are how to kill Chucky. "Through the heart. It's the only way." If Chucky spends too long as a doll, he'll never get out again, and the doll will become more human. More vulnerable. We cut to Andy in the Psych Ward where Chucky is trying to switch bodies with him. Andy gets clever though, and manages to stay out of Chucky's grasp. Warning: This part is not for the people who hate hospitals.

Andy runs as fast as he can home with Chucky in pursuit. Karen and Norris aren't too far behind. It looks like they're going for the climax, folks! I have to say, these rituals are super long. Then again, I don't know how long it takes to switch a soul out with another. In fact, what would happen to Andy's soul if Chucky won? Would he be in the doll? Or would his soul go to the afterlife? [Ana's Note: I firmly believe that Damballa is fine with transferring Chucky into a lifeless doll--sure, take some more life for yourself, see if you can't become a better person--but that he absolutely draws the line at helping Chucky kill a kid. Chucky just doesn't take into account the possibility that this religious prayer might not work because he thinks its a magic charm that works every time. He doesn't respect Damballa as an entity enough to realize he might tell him No.]

I love this line:
Chuck: "We're friends to the end? Right?"
Andy: "This IS the end, 'friend'."
So badass from a 6 year old.

The one thing to remember about Chucky: he's not dead until you've dismembered every limb. And even then, put him in a lockbox with chains and duct tape, then throw that box into the river. Otherwise, he's gonna just keep comin'. Chucky would outlive fucking COCKROACHES, ok? Nuclear blast? Just makes him angry. Squashing him? They'll just melt him down and remake him again. Fire doesn't even phase him!

After several bullets, matches, and fake-outs, Chucky lies dead (for real!) and everyone is safe. The only thing left to do is lick the wounds and start looking for therapists. Andy takes one last look at what once was his friend before the credits roll. The End. This seriously holds up SO WELL (besides the, um, voodoo stuff). Good story, good execution, good effects, good movie! 10/10, totally should go watch it if you haven't seen it yet!


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