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  • Writer's pictureToT

Child's Play: Reboot update successfully completed

Knife to meet you, Chucky

You might have seen an instructional video for a smart lightbulb which tells owners how to reboot their bulb via an ever more bewildering and hilarious sequence of turning the bulb on and off. It is laugh out loud funny and should win a clutch of gold shapes glued to plinths:

Smart technology shouldn't be this stupid - a theme unexpectedly present in the reboot of the notorious 1988 horror, which would become a franchise bearing six sequels all pattering with tiny murderous feet.

In the original serial killer Charles Lee Ray incants a voodoo spell with his dying breaths to transfer his soul into Chucky, a Cabbage Patch reject with the cheerfully blank repose of an American local news anchor. Ray's black magic is used as a lo-fi version of The Cloud (had he not been obsessed with all the killing, he could have made a killing) and it's the prevalence of the artificial intelligence we invite into our homes every day which this reboot toys with. Siri, Alexa, and others have become part of the family, taking charge of tasks and becoming an extra brain we converse with, but it's a presence we don't truly know. Tyler Burton Smith, the screenwriter of this reboot, now probably lives in a disconnected cabin.

Karen (Aubrey Plaza) takes home the ultimate piece of malware for her son Andy (Gabriel Bateman), a hacked Buddi doll whose software and firmware have been fatally altered in an act of petty revenge by a harangued Vietnamese factory worker (there's a horror to be told about the factory's conditions, too). This doll is the latest must-have innovation from Kaslan Industries, whose tech products dominate all the homes and more in this film, Buddi dolls able to interact with everything from the TV to the heating and much more.

You might be able to see, without being a Silicon Valley super-visionary, where this is heading.

The insane reboot protocols of that light bulb are a taster for how this horror suggests the internet of things is not the brightest of concepts, everything ripe for hacking and manipulation by a two foot tall psychopath in dungarees. Your home is a weapon. Your car is a weapon. Your wifi bills are murderous. Yet Buddi's leap to slaughter isn't fixed from the off, the film presenting his tip towards a rampage through a conflict of nature and nurture, this intelligence unable to understand human nuances. Layers of misread interpretation stack until he becomes the worst best friend a child could never wish for.

All the while, it is blackly funny with Mark Hamill's voice work balancing out the obviously sinister appearance of this doll with a sweetness which even draws some crafty sympathy. You'll still disconnect everything when you go home, though.

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