By: Andrea Subissati
Everyone’s favourite Buddy doll is back to terrorize the big screen this weekend in Child’s Play. Despite having a similar concept to the 1988 classic, this reboot seeks to bring Chucky into the modern era. Not only does the new Chucky doll (voiced by Mark Hamill) have access to wifi, but he can also use it to manipulate other electronic devices around him. Interested to hear what else we can expect from Chucky 2.0, Rue Morgue sat down with director Lars Klevberg to discuss his version of the iconic killer doll.
You’ve been emphatic in your claims that this Child’s Play is not to be considered a franchise film – why did you feel the need to go in a new direction?
I can say that I read the script they sent me for this version of Child’s Play and I really connected with it. It was just an amazingly written script. That’s the reason I wanted to do it, plus I’m a big fan of the original. The story that’s being told and how it maintained some of the original movie’s concepts is what really interested me in this project. So for the film itself, the story could stand alone. It’s really solid.
How much of this Child’s Play will contain practical effects vs. CGI?
This is a Child’s Play legacy, so it was important for me to do as much of it as I could in practical effects and build an electronic doll, because I’m a huge fan of that. A lot of my favourite films, what makes them so solid, is the magic of practical effects. Chucky is a doll, so it makes perfect sense to use animatronics and practical effects as much as possible. But in 2019, the world we live in, visual effects are very helpful. They can help the process and we’re able to create the version of Chucky we want through a combination of the two. We built seven versions of the doll that each have different functions. It wasn’t easy. They’re complicated and time consuming, which can open up a lot of problems. It’s a complicated way of doing things, but what comes back to you, if you do it correctly, is a presence of a character that is there in the room with the other actors. If you do too many visual effects the audience will pick up on it and won’t be able to connect emotionally to that character. That’s why doing it practically was very important to me.
What can we expect from your version of Chucky?
What you can expect is… Chucky is a fleshed out character. He has a major part in the movie and a very interesting arc. I connected to it as a present Chucky that has his own characterization and his own arc throughout the story. There’s an interesting thing with him as a character that I believe the audience will connect to. For me, it was to make a character that’s both visible and plausible with his actions.
Does Chucky 2.0 wield any modern technology for his killings?
This doll is a little bit different from his predecessors. He’s a Buddy doll that has the ability to connect to different products from the company that created the doll: a “something” hub, a drone, a vacuum cleaner, etc. He also has voice recognition and different assets that come with the doll.
What’s your opinion about stuff like that? Do you have Alexa or SIRI in your home?
I don’t have an Alexa, but I did a lot of research for the movie. I think it’s an interesting concept to have all this equipment in your daily life. The other side of that coin is what happens when things malfunction? Like if the electricity fails. The problem is if you get to addicted to it, it stops being beneficial. I think it’s an interesting thing for society as we move along and become more dependant on tools like that. I have an iPhone of course, which does a lot of the things I want it to do. I pay my bills, I can stream music, I can watch television, it can plan for me, it can tell me when to wake up. All those sorts of things. It’s almost like an extension of my mind and body and presence. It’s interesting…
Is Chucky still a funny, quippy character or are you aiming for a more serious tone?
I don’t want to go into too many details. However, it was important for me to create a Chucky that has his own character and way of being. This movie is a serious movie and a serious horror movie. It’s got a lot of heart and it’s also fun, so Chucky will be a part of that too.
How violent and gory will the movie be?
Well… people get killed! You know, it’s a horror movie with one of the most famous and iconic antagonists so you can expect some gore.
What other movies might have influenced your take on Child’s Play?
When I read the script and envisioned the movie, it was more than just one movie. I kind of gathered elements from the script. The Swedish movie Let the Right One In was a big influence – the Swedish not the American, there’s a big difference. The novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelly was also a huge inspiration. I began to read it immediately after reading the Child’s Play script. The French film La Haine, Attack the Block, E.T. and Gremlins too. That book and those movies, I feel, share some of its DNA.
It’s interesting that you mention Frankenstein because it’s about a man made monster…
He’s a creation, which deals with both his inner and outer emotions. Basically, it was like reading about a creation that had its own will and understanding about his surroundings. It’s also a great book.
Will there still be a supernatural element or is this a story of advanced technology running amok?
I don’t really want to give too many details away, as the audience will see it for themselves when it comes out. However, it will be a little different from the ‘88 version.
Tell me about the decision to move Andy’s age up from 6 years to 12?
That’s how the script was written, that Andy was a little bit older and I think it makes more sense for this story. I think once people see it, it will be more clear as to why he was made a little bit older.
Why do you think people are afraid of dolls in general?
I think that when it comes to horror, you can see it two ways. One, you fear the unknown. It’s kind of a xenophobic version of fear, things you can’t see, can’t feel and can’t understand. Two, you fear what you can understand (what you know). Like a doll or a friend and the things you consider precious, which you initially thought were good and sweet, but become nightmares. Essentially flipping what you believe upside down. I believe the fear of dolls comes from wondering what happens when one of your beloved things, which you grew up with believing was there for your safety, is is evil. It makes things very interesting. I think that’s why the original Child’s Play did so well because it took something that every child adores and trusts and made it evil.
The film’s writer, Tyler Burton Smith, comes from a video game background. Is he bringing any gaming aspects to the film?
No, he doesn’t. There’s nothing in the script in terms of computer games in general, but he has a very quick brain and he’s a very talented writer. However, there is nothing related to computer games in the script.
What are your thoughts on the trajectory of Don Mancini’s sequels over the years?
I think it’s very interesting. What Mancini has done with Child’s Play and Chucky as a character over the years is impressive and I root for him and his projects. He’s always coming up with new ways to re-invent his character and his story and I think that’s really great.