Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 18, 2019)
Like death and taxes, horror movie sequels exist as an utter inevitability. After 1988’s Child’s Play found a decent audience, it came as no surprise that Child’s Play 2 followed in 1990.
Set a couple of years after the first film’s horrific events, young Andy (Alex Vincent) ends up in foster care. His mom got sent to a psychiatric hospital, so he needs new adult supervision.
In addition, Play Pals – the company that created the “Good Guys” doll that terrorized Andy and others two years earlier – tries to overcome their bad publicity. Though Andy and his mom largely destroyed their Chucky doll, the Play Pals honchos order it reconstructed to prove it lacked the capability to achieve the violence Andy and his mom claimed.
Unsurprisingly, this goes awry. Still possessed by the spirit of homicidal maniac Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif), Chucky comes back to life and pursues Andy, as he wants to take over the boy’s body for his own insidious ends.
Whereas the first film got a boost from the novelty of its concept, Play 2 lacks the same potential impact. As a sequel, surprise doesn’t fall on its side, so it needs to find something new to entertain audiences.
Which Play 2 largely fails to do. While it creates a moderately entertaining tale, it doesn’t break new ground.
A lot of Play 2 dances perilously close to remake territory. In the first flick, Andy knew Chucky killed people but no one believes him. In the sequel, Andy knows Chucky kills people but no one believes him.
Any changes in this theme feel like windowdressing. Andy’s shift from his mom’s care to a foster environment offers some potential twists, but it feels like Andy ends up in an alternate placement more to bring in new victims than to motivate the plot.
The movie’s main charms come from the cackling menace Dourif adds to Chucky, and that side of Play 2 works fine. Having seen how much Chucky dominates the more recent sequels, though, it can feel strange to see how relatively little he does here.
Dourif gets a decent-sized part, but he doesn’t give us as much as one might anticipate. Still, Dourif delivers his potentially silly one-liners with aplomb and creates the most vivid aspects of the movie. Like the prior flick, Play 2 doesn’t give Chucky the same room for comedy as later efforts, but Dourif makes the most of his opportunities.
In the original, Vincent provided a passable presence as Andy, and that remains the case here. Two years older, the boy might present slightly stronger acting than in the first flick, but don’t expect much. He remains adequate in the role and that’s about it.
Play 2 comes with fairly good talent in the other roles, as we find semi-names like Jenny Agutter, Gerrit Graham, Beth Grant, Grace Zabriskie and others. None of them do much with their roles, but they add a bit of credibility to the project.
I think Play 2 loses points due to its inherent redundancy. Too much of it feels like an echo of the prior film, and a few minor twists do too little to alter that formula.
At a brisk 83 minutes, Play 2 goes by quickly enough to keep us with it, so as uncreative as it may be, it remains watchable. It just can’t develop into anything more memorable or dynamic than that.