COME PLAY (REVIEW)
Dir. Jacob Chase
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
COME PLAY comes from Steven Spielberg's production company, AMBLIN but beware, there's more to fear here than just sharks and aliens. Based on his 2017 short, LARRY, this extended version brings more heart and horror.
Oliver (Azhy Robertson - who will be familiar to many as the young child at the centre of MARRIAGE STORY) is a lonely young boy who feels different from everyone else. Desperate for a friend, he seeks solace and refuge in his ever-present cell phone and tablet. When a mysterious creature uses Oliver's devices against him to break into our world, Oliver's parents must fight to save their son from the monster beyond the screen.
At it's heart, this is a film as much about loneliness as it is about being a parent and once these themes are made apparent, it's difficult to be scared of the horror ensuing on screen. COME PLAY is swamped in cliché and tropes that it starts to be come an anthology of jump scares. Many work, but some don't and it's construct to try new ways to scare, really takes away from the atmosphere and tension as electronics, lighting and invisible forces are all at play. There's credit for effort, but not for execution.
For veterans of horror, you would have seen a lot of these before but the movie seems to be more of a connection of these scenes rather than a sum of it's parts. Despite this, the central story and performances really make the film stronger than it should. The film is full of an emotional core that makes the horror feel secondary, especially as the film develops into a Guillermo Del Toro-esque fantasy of sorts.
The young cast is reminiscent of the recent IT series and holds together much charm against the unlikable grown up cast. Outside of the mother (played brilliantly by Gillian Jacobs), there's not one likeable adult and as such, as the film reminds you of it's horror roots, the inevitable targets becomes more of a spectator sport.
With echoes of THE BABADOOK meets THE SLENDER MAN on the whole this works and if you're looking for a decent movie with an emotional core then COME PLAY will certainly fill that void but if you want a striking original horror then you may be disappointed.