News

5 Things We Learned On the Set of the Child’s Play Reboot

Scary bears, gothic inspirations, a Stranger Things twist: This Chucky flick's going dark.

by | May 16, 2019 | Comments

Child's Play 2019
(Photo by Eric Milner / Orion Pictures)

In July 2018, it was announced that Orion Pictures had secured the rights to the first Child’s Play film, written by Don Mancini and directed by Tom Holland, but fans were to expect some major changes in this franchise reboot.

Mancini is in development with a Child’s Play television series for SyFy, ensuring that all the original elements of Chucky’s rise to power (and marriage and kids) would be preserved. That frees up new director Lars Klevberg and first-time writer Tyler Burton Smith to do a totally different take on the original film, potentially spawning their own parallel franchise.

Cast and crew began shooting in the fall of 2018, and Klevberg was nice enough to invite us up to Vancouver to the famed Riverview Hospital, where all your favorite spooky things are filmed, to get a glimpse of the new world of Child’s Play. Back then, no footage had been released to the public, and news had not yet broken that Mark Hamill would be voicing the murderous doll. But we did pick up several details that even the trailers have yet to reveal.

Here’s what we learned.


These Aren’t Your 1980s Karen and Andy

Just as in the original, the story revolves around a single mother and son, Karen and Andy Barclay. Here, they’re played by Aubrey Plaza and Gabriel Bateman, respectively, and Andy’s about double the age of the original character, at 12 now. With age, Andy’s character deepens from a 6-year-old naïf to a sweet but moody pre-teen who loves his mom, even if she doesn’t understand him at all.

Karen is also a little less chaste in this version. In the original, she was a widow, but, here, it’s assumed dad just never stuck around. As the producers said, Karen being a single mom was the subtext in the old film, but “it’s the text of the new film.” Karen fills her time with bad boyfriend Shane, who, like most bad boyfriends in moviedom, is not long for this world. There’s a potential for a little romance, however, with Detective Mike, played by Brian Tyree Henry.

Detective Mike is a kind of moral center of the story and lives in an old building with Karen and Andy. When Karen can’t deal, she escapes to the dingy basement and smokes, which is where Mike can find her. We saw one such scene being filmed at Riverview, where Plaza and Henry improvised a tender moment shared between their two characters. Klevberg certainly seemed to be an actor’s director, allowing emotion to drive the scene, quite a bit different from the original.



Think BUDDI doll Chucky is bad? Meet MUDDI Bear.

There is no voodoo. We repeat: THERE IS NO VOODOO. At least not when it comes to bringing Chucky to life. As Klevberg says, “It’s not a thing where you look and he has no batteries.” Instead, the Chucky doll is an AI BUDDI doll, who comes to “life” when a disgruntled employee inserts a faulty chip into his body. And this time, Chucky has some pals, BUDDI dolls of all colors, and a ferocious, cuddly BUDDI Bear, plus a bunch of drones. We’re also told that Chucky has the ability to control all of his new friends (something the most recent trailer also showed us).

Chucky still finds his way to Andy by way of a birthday gift from his mother. Karen thinks it’s the hottest new toy and that it might help him make friends, but doesn’t realize that a pre-teen boy doesn’t play with dolls. A lot of this story will revolve around Karen feeling like a failure as a mother, and Andy attempting to be the adult in their relationship.



Expect Old-School Puppet Effects (With Some CGI Emotions)

Most of the puppet effects are done old-school with Emmy Award-winning FX studio MastersFX reimagining Chucky and his BUDDIs. We watched one green screen filming session with the BUDDI Bear, where puppeteer Keith Arbuthnot used a basic puppet rod system, mounting the bear’s feet to rods that connected to Arbuthnot’s feet, and remote-controlled the bear’s head movements. But the team did say all the puppets would get CG eyes, to get at their emotions onscreen.


Some Stranger Things Flavor Has been Added

Klevberg wants to make it clear that this film isn’t a vehicle for witty one-liners for Chucky. “I think all Child’s Play movies have some sort of great humor. But that humor needs to be threaded in the story and it needs to feel real [for me].” With the raunchy spirit of a serial killer removed, there’s a sense that the reboot is built for a split audience of adults and younger people, with a subtler, more sophisticated tongue-in-cheek humor. They even retooled the focus of the film, giving Andy a plucky gang of friends á la Stranger Things or Attack the Block — Klevberg said it was the “smart” thing to do for the reboot.


Child's Play
(Photo by Orion Pictures)

Frankenstein Provided Director Klevberg With Inspiration 

When we visited the set, it was still unknown who would be voicing Chucky; we now know the honor will go to Luke Skywalker himself, Hamill, who also voiced the Joker in the 1990s’ Batman: The Animated Series. Chucky apparently has the most complete character arc of the story. Producers said that “by the end of the film, you’re unsure if it’s a real boy. This is really a new Pinocchio story.” But Klevberg seemed more influenced by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, calling it his “key inspiration.” Klevberg says, “I picked up the book and read it again, because there are so many interesting similarities there. How [the characters] deal with Chucky from their perspective, and how they are being separated by understanding of his motivation and purpose of life, and what’s [Chucky’s] purpose when he starts to learn from other human beings.”


Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.


Child’s Play is in theaters everywhere June 21, 2019

#1

Child's Play (2019)
63%

#1
Adjusted Score: 71.435%
Critics Consensus: Child's Play updates an '80s horror icon for the Internet of Things era, with predictably gruesome -- and generally entertaining -- results.
Synopsis: A contemporary re-imagining of the 1988 horror classic, Child's Play follows Karen (Aubrey Plaza), a single mother who gifts her... [More]
Directed By: Lars Klevberg

Tag Cloud

series Spectrum Originals See It Skip It 45 historical drama 24 frames Lifetime Turner Classic Movies Disney Plus Marvel Studios true crime documentary Pirates FX zombies Pixar batman Crunchyroll Chernobyl dragons Lifetime Christmas movies book cancelled TV shows south america toy story Interview discovery animated Creative Arts Emmys Starz cartoon TCM National Geographic 2020 finale Tomatazos Mudbound Family CBS All Access kids Pop Sundance The Walking Dead adventure hist Rom-Com independent GIFs Awards CNN Dark Horse Comics mutant Disney streaming service Television Academy ratings Hulu Opinion medical drama Walt Disney Pictures Holidays The Purge Netflix The Witch DirecTV Video Games NBC Action Warner Bros. Photos TIFF thriller comic blaxploitation Disney joker Sundance Now Elton John Mary Tyler Moore APB 71st Emmy Awards Biopics Heroines name the review Music screenings TBS romantic comedy jamie lee curtis sports festivals cancelled television CMT BBC witnail Trivia based on movie E3 Rock anthology streaming SundanceTV Lionsgate Certified Fresh casting Valentine's Day Classic Film Marathons Apple Horror ghosts Oscars TLC what to watch DGA Acorn TV doctor who golden globes Quiz Pet Sematary PaleyFest Masterpiece Nominations Britbox Podcast Amazon El Rey Turner Rocky FXX Superheroes Marvel Television Pride Month cops Set visit Columbia Pictures Endgame nature Fall TV Best and Worst diversity romance E! Brie Larson disaster space canceled AMC cats FOX Avengers Food Network cars Logo talk show sequel crime police drama Film OneApp The CW Shudder anime Black Mirror cinemax Super Bowl biography Thanksgiving Mindy Kaling 2017 Reality A&E 21st Century Fox Martial Arts Drama ABC halloween YouTube Red Cosplay LGBT Shondaland Infographic Anna Paquin The Arrangement DC Comics Red Carpet sag awards YouTube hispanic Chilling Adventures of Sabrina MTV Polls and Games richard e. Grant Premiere Dates slashers Box Office screen actors guild Winners Discovery Channel cooking canceled TV shows Disney Channel Summer reboot stand-up comedy American Society of Cinematographers Ellie Kemper indie RT21 Trailer political drama Hallmark Christmas movies Peacock MSNBC tv talk Sneak Peek ABC Family NYCC Star Trek boxoffice breaking bad harry potter Song of Ice and Fire TCA Winter 2020 TCA 2017 spinoff comics spider-man Ghostbusters First Reviews dceu Holiday teaser San Diego Comic-Con free movies foreign IFC game of thrones renewed TV shows IFC Films Cannes psycho Writers Guild of America PBS Stephen King crime thriller social media Sony Pictures miniseries LGBTQ Arrowverse cancelled TV series RT History television MCU Cartoon Network GoT Musical Awards Tour Binge Guide Fantasy Calendar TV renewals History Film Festival serial killer zombie quibi Extras movies science fiction SXSW 20th Century Fox Animation YouTube Premium Paramount Network adaptation facebook Freeform Lucasfilm A24 TruTV TV Academy Awards Kids & Family Fox News Comic Book Emmy Nominations YA TV Land cults mockumentary technology Character Guide Election Comics on TV Ovation BBC America Winter TV Disney+ Disney Plus Apple TV+ versus Syfy children's TV Toys Teen Countdown Mary Poppins Returns TCA Tarantino blockbuster Crackle Showtime Adult Swim vampires 2019 2015 Baby Yoda Nickelodeon Tumblr DC streaming service spy thriller VICE Trophy Talk period drama crossover Country Year in Review natural history Schedule Spike 007 Mystery BET Vudu Nat Geo comiccon Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt dc directors binge OWN ESPN revenge Paramount green book Superheroe Comedy ITV game show First Look GLAAD USA Network Netflix Christmas movies justice league rotten movies we love Marvel Women's History Month dramedy travel aliens DC Universe Epix cancelled supernatural Sundance TV Reality Competition SDCC Bravo CW Seed Emmys crime drama Western Universal spanish language video Apple TV Plus politics strong female leads zero dark thirty WarnerMedia elevated horror latino award winner 2016 Amazon Prime HBO robots Hallmark unscripted Rocketman composers Captain marvel transformers theme song docudrama sitcom 2018 VH1 Amazon Prime Video Star Wars New York Comic Con singing competition christmas movies HBO Max Spring TV spain Christmas psychological thriller WGN USA Watching Series X-Men Mary poppins Grammys werewolf Comedy Central war TNT Musicals Tubi Esquire CBS President Sci-Fi