The upcoming Child's Play reboot isn't terribly similar to the original slasher film, outside of the murderous doll that has turned on the child who is unfortunately dealing with him. The newest incarnation of the franchise instead explores how technology has become constant in our lives, and how it could turn on us to absolutely devastating effect.
Child's Play director Lars Klevberg spoke with CBR about how that idea led to him becoming interested him about the project, his overall love of film and why he doesn't see himself strictly as a "horror director."
Klevberg was quick to admit, "I'm a huge movie fan and film geek. I read all the movie sites, that sort of thing. I love talking like this, it's the best part of the job. Getting to geek out about movies, that's what it's about instead of just being serious all the time."
Reflecting on his general love of film outside of horror, Klevberg admitted, "I don't see myself as this big horror fan. I like horror of course, I think most movie directors have experience with horror. Like, everyone in my generation watched [the Chucky movies] when they were younger and it scared them shitless. If you watch Child's Play when you're 18, 19 years old? I don't think they would be as scary. But when you're little and you steal the VHS of something and it can freak you out."
"When you're a director, I think many of those first moments... those horror moments stick with you. It connects to you in a deeper, emotional way," he explained. "That's why many movie-makers, no matter what they're making, have a connection to horror... you have Kubrick with The Shining, Spielberg with Jaws, M. Night Shyamalan, Peter Jackson. Jackson is like the old school horror of Brain Dead, which is very campy but it's one of my favorite movies."
Klevberg also looked back at his earlier short film, the horror story Polaroid. "I don't see myself as a horror director," he said. "I made Polaroid... because I had a sense that there was something interesting in it about social media. Personally, I love every kind of movie, but I'm a huge fan of thrillers, horror and sci-fi. I love horror."
Reflecting on what interests him about horror stories, Klevberg said, "I think that a great horror movie connects to it's generation somehow. Every good horror movie resembles something. Jaws is about being scared by something you don't understand, same with Alien."
He continued, "And on [Child's Play], it's interesting because it deals with technology, like you [reporters] have your cell phones out so you can record this. If you have an Alexa, which is this thing which you can just put on a stand and it can... guide you in your life. But if you modify Alexa and make it human looking and make it walk around, I think it would breach something. It would make it something different. This is just taking that concept to another level."
"I think that's interesting. That will eventually happen, with robots and servants," he said. "What's more important for me about AI is how it allows me to create Chucky as a character with a clean slate instead of dealing with voodoo. Instead it deals with a character who is seeing the world for the first time, and if you do that, you find yourself with a character you can look at and go 'oh, that's really interesting how he adapts to his surroundings to find meaning and motivation and goals and is based on how he looks at us.' That for me was really interesting."
Directed by Lars Klevberg from a script by Tyler Burton Smith, Child's Play stars Aubrey Plaza, Brian Tyree Henry, Gabriel Bateman, Tim Matheson and Mark Hamill. The film opens on June 21.