61 Days of Halloween- Child’s Play

Most holidays worth their while encompass entire seasons, such as Christmas, for example. However, as you may have noticed there is a corporate push every year for us to think about the next holiday even sooner. While this has many negative side effects I figure I may as well embrace it.

Since Labor Day is really only good for college football and movie marathons cinematically it is as significant as Arbor Day, which means the next big day on the calendar is Halloween and we can start looking toward it starting now.

Daily I will be viewing films in the horror genre between now and then and sharing the wealth. Many, as is usually the case, will not be worth it so for every disappointment so I will try and suggest something worth while as well.

Child’s Play

Alex Vincent in Child's Play (United Artists)

This retrospective is valuable in part because it has allowed for revisiting of many titles. This particular film was one I’d seen in a very piecemeal manner, which is no way to see any film but especially when dealing with a concept like this. Seeing Child’s Play in pieces will only highlight parts of the narrative which suspension of disbelief will get you through.

Structurally this film works absolutely perfectly. Things move along at a brisk pace and cause and effect up until the climax are very clear. All you really have to get past is your own faculties of reasoning and you see that many things in this film do in fact work.

Now while as a child, who was not technically supposed to be seeing any part of this film, it did scare me, as it should, even removing that it still works whether you are scared by the subject matter or not which is not always the case with horror films.

Disbelief amongst characters is a factor in horror films that can be quite frustrating. When evidence is piling up and events that defy rational explanation are happening but people don’t believe it can be frustrating as an audience member. This film deals with that notion in an interesting way. The reveal of Chucky’s nature to Andy is rather slow. Andy’s not doubted long before his babysitter meets her untimely demise. It’s a kill of a character whom is not disposable, someone who we have met and liked so it’s effective.

Though Andy is refuted both by his mother and the police but his mother quickly sees the light. The reveal of the doll missing batteries after Andy is held for examination is visual and stunning. Similarly Detective Norris’s doubts are allayed when he narrowly escapes death at the hands of the possessed doll but he plays it close to the vest upon re initiating contact with Miss Barclay.

So very slowly but most importantly steadily the circle of believers grows. As the circle of believers grows so does Chucky’s rampaging. Another asset this film has at its disposal is a distinct set of rules, which are blatantly disregarded in the sequel, and the antagonist’s want is clearly defined. Conversely Andy’s need changes, at first he wants the doll then he wants to be believed and wants to be with his mother anew.

All the comedy of the film comes through design. The only things that truly hold it back are that the final showdown with Chucky is overly-long, as he appears to be vanquished twice and comes back to life but it is allowed to be that long because all those fighting him weren’t recalling or acting upon the biggest rule given to them by the dying witch doctor: shoot him in the heart. It’s not until his last stand that attempts are made at that hit.

Otherwise, though it is a truly effective and accomplished work by director Tom Holland and his two co-writers Don Lafia and Don Mancini.

7/10

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