Child’s Play Director Lars Klevberg on More Expressive, Sympathetic Chucky
What goes into building a Chucky that the audience can connect with throughout the film?
By Chris Morse
With the upcoming remake of Child’s Play, Chucky is on his way back to the big screen, albeit in a totally reimagined way. On the onset, a children’s toy turning murderous and cracking a joke here and there is certainly the essence of the character, but it seems like that’s where the similarities will end. The classic incarnation of Chucky showed us a serial-killer-possessed doll, while this remake will instead focus on a more modern, AI-based toy that becomes a killer for its own reasons.
Collider recently spoke with director Lars Klevberg about this film’s new take on the killer doll, a discussion which revealed some new information and insight into the remake. On whether the movie still deals with consumerism in the same way as the original, the director had the following to say.
It’s still dealing with consumerism in this one as well; it just isn’t quite as big a deal. But it’s not about the AI itself. That’s not what scary about this one. The scary thing is that our antagonist, our Chucky, transforms through its AI.
Now, here is where the new film’s approach gets interesting. You may have noticed a wide range of expressions of Chucky’s face throughout each of the trailers and TV spots we’ve had a look at. That is certainly by design, as this remake’s script places a heavy focus on the character’s motivations, even evoking some sympathy in the process.
When I read the script, one of the first things I recognized was that Chucky was a great character in terms of that he changed. He had his motivations, and it came through his interaction with humans. His way of becoming sympathetic – that was something I really wanted to look into. I viewed the story as a Greek tragedy [for] Chucky… So Chucky having different emotions in this film was important to me.
Klevberg proceeds to elaborate on this idea even further. Without given too much of the movie away, he points out that Chucky’s motivation is almost understandable in this story, which is part of what makes him a great antagonist.
I don’t want to reveal that… But [Chucky’s] motivation is understandable from his point of view but also to us. We can understand why he’s behaving like that. If you understand the antagonist and his motivations, then you can identify with him. That’s why Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein is one of my key inspirations… [How Chucky questions] his purpose once he starts to understand from us human beings.
When it comes to remakes, protecting the source material is always on the minds of long-time fans and writers alike. It seems like both the writer and director were keenly aware of this going into the project, which must carry with it a certain amount of respect for what came first. Klevberg’s comments on this can be read below.
I’m a huge fan of the first movie, but that should never be the reason why you do a project. When you’re dealing with a remake with a huge fanbase, you’re touching on something that means a lot to many people. You should be a little bit aware of that from a storyteller’s perspective because there’s a reason why that movie was so popular. It meant something to many people. But at the same time, you need to see what’s written in the script and tell that story. I saw that [the script] was very emotional and scary and had a deeper story underneath everything. I didn’t want to change it, I just wanted to add to the material that was already there.
Additionally, the director also touched upon what kind of humor will be present in the movie. It’s no secret that Chucky got a bit silly over the years throughout the original line of films, although it was certainly correcting course back to horror in the most recent installments. Here’s what you can expect from the remake in this regard.
When I read the draft, I thought it was very fun. I would often flip the page, and there would be a great moment. There are horror aspects, emotional aspects but also just really fun moments. It’s not campy, silly humor. It’s all integrated into the story and how our characters move forward as the story progresses… All the Child’s Play movies have some humor to them. But it needed to be integrated into the story. It needed to feel real and hit you so you laugh while you’re having a great time, but not because it’s silly.
Finally, with respect to the look of the doll, it’s different from previous incarnations but certainly more expressive. Klevberg says it’s important for audiences to connect emotionally with Chucky, which is why they have designed a doll that could convey way more expressions.
Chucky’s looked different throughout all the films. For me – I always go off the script. So it came from that… I knew I wanted the audience to connect with Chucky emotionally on every level. He needed to be expressive, and I needed him to have the possibility to change. All those pieces need to fit together for a purpose, and that comes from the script and what the story is about.
In Child’s Play, a mother gives her son a toy doll for his birthday, unaware of its more sinister nature. The cast includes Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation, Legion) as the mother, Karen, Gabriel Bateman (Light’s Out) as her son, Andy, and Brian Tyree Henry (Atlanta) as Greg, a detective who will be investigating the mysterious deaths surrounding the doll. Chucky is voiced by the legendary Mark Hamill.
The film is directed by Lars Klevberg, who is known for his horror film, Polaroid, with a script penned by Quantum Break and Kung Fury 2 writer Tyler Burton Smith. KatzSmith Productions’ David Katzenberg and Seth Grahame-Smith (Stephen King's It) are on board as producers with the film slated to arrive early this summer on June 21st, 2019.