child's play | tom holland | don mancini | john lafia | catherine hicks | chris sarandon | alex vincent | thriller | united states | chucky | possessed | killer doll | brad dourif | dinah manoff | tommy swerdlow | jack colvin | neil giuntoli | juan ramirez | alan wilder
Film: Child’s Play
Director: Tom Holland
Writer: Don Mancini, John Lafia and Tom Holland
Starring: Catherine Hicks, Chris Sarandon and Alex Vincent
This film has historic significance in starting the franchise of Child’s Play, but also for creating the character of Chucky (voiced by Brad Dourif). The synopsis for this original film is a single mother gives her a son a much sought-after doll for his birthday, only to discover that it is possessed by the soul of a serial killer.
As I was watching this film, I realized that I had never seen this film all the way through, growing up. I watched it on DVD and then got to see it again in the theater on 35mm. I would normally pop in at different times and knew pretty much everything that happened though. Something that I had heard from others as well as I noticed myself as watch this film, this one is much darker than any of the rest and the fear is much higher. Chucky has some funny lines in this film, but I think that might be just what I find to be funny as well as I know what the role becomes. Part of me is also interested in more in a concept that wasn’t explored for this film that would have changed the course of the series forever.
In the beginning of this film after Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) gets his Good Guy Doll, we don’t see it move and it only talks by saying the lines that were recorded for it. The first half of the film portrays that maybe the crimes are being done by Andy while he blames it on Chucky. This would have killed the franchise or changed the course, but I almost think this could have made for a better movie. That is just my personal feelings on some trivia I discovered, but back to my thoughts on this film.
I still find this to be a strong horror film. The story is really good, because Chucky strategically reveals his secret to a child. No one is going to believe the child that his doll is alive and we see this from his mother, Karen Barclay (Catherine Hicks), and the police officer who is investigating all of the murders, Mike Norris (Chris Sarandon). There is an issue I have though is that when Chucky’s associate is murdered and Andy is the suspect, there would be zero connection between Andy and this man. Clearly Chucky would, but I will say that it would be difficult to believe, but how would the child know who that person was. That was just an issue I had with the thought process behind the film.
This film is edited well and it does build tension to the climax. I thought the climax was satisfying. I have heard some people not buying that this doll would be that menacing due to his height. There is something with fear of seeing something that is not normal and not being able to process it. I feel the editing for the film works with the story. I also like that despite how I kind of wanted it play out, we do get hints early on that Chucky is actually doing this. It also has a good running time and never lags at any point.
To bring this to life, there needs to be good acting which I think we also get. Hicks I thought is strong and believable in her processing of what is happening. I thought the angle of a struggling single mother was good. I believe that she is doing the best she can and it felt real. When her best friend dies, she is in shock and hearing what Andy says upsets her. It isn’t until she makes a discovery that she believes him. Sarandon is good as the police officer. I do think that he is a little too dense on believing, but it works. Vincent kills his role which was quite surprising for his age. I thought it was good and he actually makes me tear up at one point. I also want to say that Dourif is phenomenal as Chucky and Charles Lee Ray. The rest of the cast rounds out the film well.
Along with the acting, the effects are important to a film like this, which I also thought were also good. The biggest thing is bringing the doll to life and I thought it looks solid. There are a few times that I notice things that don’t really hold up, but for 1988, it was state of the art. They blend well with using smaller actors and robots to bring it to film, which together make a solid product. I also thought that the kills were good and the realism of them was there. I like the look of the blood as well. The only thing left to touch on would be the score of the film.
The sound design was good. None of the song selections really stand out, but they help to heighten the mood of the scene. It doesn’t have the best soundtrack and I wouldn’t be seeking it out, but it does what it needs to. I do feel this is a positive overall.
Now with all of that said, this film is actually really good. The concept does seem to be a little bit hokie, but I think it works. This is a good supernatural slasher in my opinion. The story is good. I know writer and creator Don Macini didn’t like the voodoo angle that was brought in, but I think that it works. Even the voodoo death I give a pass by it explaining how Chucky’s soul gets into the doll. The editing of this story builds the tension to the satisfying conclusion. The acting along with the soundtrack help to heighten and allow it to play out as it should as well. The effects of the film were good as the deaths look real and the doll comes to life. I definitely recommend seeing this film. This one isn’t as fun as the sequels and it is the darkest of all of them. For that reason, I do think this one is really good.
My Rating: 8.5 out of 10