HEAT VISION

How 'Child's Play' Sets Up a Sci-Fi Sequel

The reboot puts a spin on the 1988 horror film that could take the franchise in new directions.
Courtesy of Film
The reboot puts a spin on the 1988 horror film that could take the franchise in new directions.

[This story includes spoilers for 2019's Child's Play]

Lars Klevberg's remake of the classic '80s horror film Child's Play was always going to have to reckon with the legacy of the original whilst subtly updating it. So when it was revealed in early trailers for the film that Chucky was no longer a doll possessed by the spirit of a serial killer, but rather an artificially intelligent robot who due to reasons unknown becomes utterly evil, the fact that the film was presenting a new take on the lore wasn't a complete surprise.

Now that Child's Play has been unleashed on audiences, what does that change mean for a potential sequel? Just like the Tom Holland-helmed original, the new Child's Play begins by giving viewers an insight into the story behind the killer doll. Here, though, instead of serial killer Charles Lee Ray utilizing voodoo to put his soul into a popular Good Guy doll, we see a disgruntled factory worker turn off all of the safety features and coding in the red-haired "Buddi" (voiced by Mark Hamill) home helper that will find its way to the home of Andy Barclay (Gabriel Bateman) and his mother, Karen (Aubrey Plaza).

As the film moves forward it becomes clear just how much power Chucky has without the constraints of his corporate safety codes. Not only can he learn — and learn he does, becoming inspired to kill after watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 — he can also control and utilize any technology made by the company that created him, Kaslan. Though the film appears to be set in 2019, the technological reach of the tech corporation is far wider than any of their real-life counterparts, with their products covering everything from an automated ride-share service, phones, kids toys, drones, appliances, hearing aids, garden equipment and much more.

During the film's final act, the audience is introduced to the next generation of Buddi dolls, including a Buddi bear and a Buddi leprechaun. While Chucky wreaks havoc on the local Zedmart shopping mall, he controls the other dolls and uses them to attack the unsuspecting bystanders as they try to escape the technological onslaught that they're facing. It's one of the strongest moments of the movie and it also offers up some very interesting questions about just what the Buddi dolls are capable of doing and what it means for the potential franchise going forward.

All that it takes for Chucky to become an all-powerful killer with the capabilities to control entire buildings, vehicles and other Buddi dolls is for his safety coding to be turned off by the man programming him in the factory. By this logic, any Buddi doll that has its safeguarding removed would have similar powers, enabling it to take over televisions, transportation, many dangerous electrical devices and possibly the entire internet through Kaslan's Wi-Fi routers. This Child's Play does add an interesting nature versus nurture argument, with Chucky learning much of his murderous nature from TV and bullies — could these dolls be taught to be good?

Despite the fact that Child's Play seems to show the demise of Chucky and only hints at the survival of a single evil Buddi doll, the subtle world-building of the high-tech alt-universe offers up an easy route for a second entry into the rebooted series, one that would make it diverge it from the ongoing original franchise and its sequels. During the final chaos of the movie that sees Andy and his friends battling to save his mom from the fatal grasp of the evil doll, Child's Play introduces multiple Buddi 2.0s, which feature all kinds of variations and versions of the iconic new iteration of Chucky. As the credits roll, viewers are treated to a last-minute shock as a Buddi doll's eyes glow red in its box. So could that Buddi doll have been turned by Chucky, ready for the next stage of robot revolution? More than likely.

The rights loophole that allowed MGM to remake the 1988 version of the film only extends to that, the original, and can't infringe on the rest of the still ongoing franchise. If the creators want to continue this new iteration of the cult horror franchise, then they'll have to take a drastic turn when it comes to a possible follow-up, and that's where the importance of Chucky's AI origins come into play. It would be easy to shift the gore-soaked horror of the first film into a more sci-fi heavy story for the second, with the Buddi dolls gaining sentience after being reprogrammed, or even after a Kaslan-wide glitch. This could put the AI in control of homes, vehicles, businesses and more, crafting a terrifying Skynet-style monolith led by the cute and creepy dolls of Kaslan.

With this new version of Child's Play, there are plenty of possibilities to play with for films to come.

Child's Play is in theaters now.

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