In the 1988 Child’s Play, the original Chucky doll comes to life when the soul of a serial killer transfers into its body. The pint-sized killer therefore has murderous intentions right from the start, but in the upcoming remake, writer Tyler Burton Smith and director Lars Klevberg are trying a very different approach.
As you’ve likely heard by now, the rebooted Chucky, voiced by Mark Hamill, has been written as an A.I. gone psycho. As producer Seth Grahame-Smith recently explained to Entertainment Weekly, the character begins his story “full of love for his best buddy and dreaming of ways to make him happy.” According to Klevberg, however, Chucky’s arc eventually takes a turn for the tragic.
“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,” the director told Collider. “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.”
When asked about the new Chucky’s motivations, Klevberg was reluctant to get too specific, but he did offer a few insights on his thought process:
“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.”
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The original Chucky, voiced by Brad Dourif, is more or less the same unrepentant monster in all seven of his movies, meaning that this new, more sympathetic portrayal will almost certainly prove divisive among longtime fans.
In the meantime, the film has already drawn a fair amount of backlash, even by the standards of horror remakes. Part of the reason for this mixed response is the new Chucky’s origins, but even before we had the details on his backstory, fans were taking issue with the fact that neither Dourif nor franchise creator Don Mancini were involved.
If you fall into the latter camp, then you may want to check out the Chucky TV show that’s set to premiere next year. But first, we’ll find out if the Child’s Play reboot can win over skeptics when it arrives in theaters on June 21st.