This story contains spoilers for the 2019 Child's Play reboot.
Chucky has always been a resilient little guy. In the first Child's Play movie, released in 1988 toward the end of the slasher movie boom, the overalls-sporting, knife-wielding doll gets shot, burned, and decapitated, his chubby face melting into a horrifying charred visage of Reagan-era consumerism-run-amok, but he just keeps fighting. From there, he went on to star in six sequels, all of them written by the series creator, Don Mancini, who came up with the lucrative concept of the killer toy when he was a film student at UCLA. Now the pint-sized anti-hero faces his latest test: Can he survive a lackluster reboot?
The Child's Play that comes to theaters in 2019, arriving as slightly less existentially unsettling counter-programming to Pixar's Toy Story 4, looks relatively straightforward at first glance, another attempt at reigniting passion for a familiar piece of intellectual property in a summer full of bloated sequels and big-budget retreads. It's directed by Norweigian filmmaker Lars Klevberg and stars Parks and Recreation eye-roller Aubrey Plaza as a single mom who brings home the latest technologically advanced "Buddi" doll as a gift for her son Andy (Gabriel Bateman). Unsurprisingly, the Buddi doll, voiced by nerd favorite Mark Hamill, goes haywire out of a twisted sense of loyalty to his owner and starts hacking people up. As slick, self-aware kitsch, it feels like it rolled right off the assembly line, outfitted with enough satirical jabs and outrageous gore effects to win over some skeptics.
What's perhaps more interesting is that the reboot comes wrapped in layers of behind-the-scenes controversy. In the world of slasher movies, remakes and reboots are hardly new: Friday The 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Halloween have all been reanimated in recent years with varying degrees of financial and critical success. But Child's Play isn't like other horror franchises: Mancini's involvement in all the previous films is relatively unique in the genre, making this reboot something slightly more sinister than your average cash-grab.