After an initial viewing of the trailer for "Come Play" I was excited for the new creature feature to fill my screen this Halloween. Then it occurred to me, after sharing the trailer with friends and other horror geeks, that something in this trailer was recognizable and I wasn't sure why. See for yourself if something from the official trailer stood out to you.
COME PLAY - Official Trailer [HD] - In Theaters Halloween www.youtube.com
Now do you see what I mean? The ghoulish figure coming through the screen and that shot of the parking lot toll booth got my mind racing! This movie was recalling something I've seen before, and now I was even more invested.
"Come Play" is the feature film adaptation of the original short "Larry," which as a standalone is horrifying, and was published on YouTube in 2017. It's surprising that only 3 years passed between the short and the feature, but astonishing to find that this title kept it's original creator. Jacob Chase is the writer/director for both of these versions.
Here is the short.
Larry - Short Horror Film www.youtube.com
In the feature "Come Play" a dark spirit uses phones and tablets to get to Oliver, a young boy who is nonverbal autistic, so it can take him from the living world and into its own. The boy, and really everyone, is surrounded by technology providing access at every corner for the creature to come in and make a swipe for a new friend in eternity. The boy's parents are battling the same evil in their own respect, and the two come together to ward off its presence before it's too late.
A point on creative storytelling is one worth mentioning off the bat since audiences are receiving a new creator in the realm of big screen horror. Even the film promotes this message with the words "a terrifying new vision in horror awaits" referring to Chase as it's written across the top of the movie poster. The awe that surrounds a film like this starts with creative recognition. Someone, in this case Chase, was imaginative to a level that ranks them among the creators of "Mama," "Lights Out," and since this point doesn't directly speak to one genre, "The Way He Looks." All these titles are examples of short film filmmakers adapting their original short titles to features and also maintaining the role of director for their big screen renditions. That's astounding.
In Chase's "Come Play" he includes original "Larry" material in unique callback scenes that got fans of the original giddy when that tollbooth showed up again. Other than that, the film explores it's creature with more depth and origin, without losing itself in it's worldbuilding. As is the case with every review, a consideration of the actors and characters they portray could serve to boost or harm this creature feature.
Here we have Azhy Robertson, if some remember as the son from "Marriage Story," playing the protagonist as an elementary schooled, family oriented, and curious boy who is engaging and inquisitive. This is managed just well enough without feeling like the cause is wasted because the main character is helpless or too self damning in his actions. It was fun to root for the little guy! Even better was what I observed to be secondary placement of the parent characters. This is a horror story that follows a young boy because the creature targets the lonely, and though adults experience loneliness all the same, keeping the focus on the boy kept me centered. That being said, this is one the fastest turnarounds I've seen for parent characters to turn on their "monsters don't exist, and they can't hurt you" spiel. We love to see the break from the formula!
Additional characters include the elementary school bullies who pick on a classmate/old friend simply for being different. Thankfully the evil done by the boys isn't so harsh as to hate them, and instead is a genuine look at how kids act when they are that age and struggling to communicate, as expected. I found reason to have enjoyed them by the end.This spooky season grab your favorite sanitized blanket, your most season appropriate and/or effective mask, and either cozy up in your car for a drive in showing or visit a theater when "Come Play" releases on October 30th. Jacob Chase's "Come Play" introduces a creature that hides itself behind technology, and with screens so easily handed off to children and always in front of people's faces, the slow emergence of this nightmare is exactly what fans new and old crave this time of year.
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