Film: Come Play
Summary: A monster named Larry manifests itself through smartphones and mobile devices. This is a feature film version of the 2017 short film.
Director: Jacob Chase
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
As the old adage goes, never judge a book by its cover, or, of course, a film by simply its name. Come Play sounds fairly ambiguous… even risqué for its implied suggestiveness. For obvious reasons, it has been a fairly subdued time for new mainstream cinema, these last few months. However, this film comes straight out of the left-field as an absolutely delightful surprise.
The script can be a tad inconsistent, but it’s most definitely more than passable for a horror movie like this, made on an admittedly and relatively smaller budget. It does a decent job of driving the narrative of concept flow for the film’s duration, mainly by having characters that are sympathetic to the audience’s emotions and that you enjoy watching. The acting also helps in this department.
Everyone does a good job, especially the child actors, who get some pretty funny lines here and there to balance things out. The millennial appeal, I suppose! But I have to give the most credit to Azhy Robertson, who has to not only carry the whole film himself but who has to do so without the luxury of spoken dialogue. Whoever has faced a camera for the first time, and has to emote based on just body language, will know how very difficult it can be, in order to be convincing. This actor makes it look easy. Future casting directors…are you listening?
Sound design is important in a horror film, and while I’d say a large chunk of the soundtrack here is serviceable but basic horror movie stuff, that remaining part really stands out with a bit of a whimsical bent that’s rare for a movie like this. In particular, the use of a choir in a couple of key moments really adds a unique flavor to the score of the film. It was reminiscent of the first ‘Omen’ movie in terms of the choir choral and the atmospheric parts, from other movies like ‘It Follows’, which I’d also reviewed. Both legendary.
But I’d say the best thing on display here is the direction. I think Chase has a promising future ahead of him in the direction of horror movies. While the concept of psychological horror turns like The Babadook mixed with last year’s Child’s Play reboot, the execution felt reminiscent to me of Insidious. That is, there are plenty of jump scares, which is a common technique used in horror, but they’re well-timed and done in a way that doesn’t feel cheap or lazy. Also like Insidious, there are more subtle scares mixed in that balance everything out and keep the project from feeling like a one-trick pony or a jumpscare factory.
On a final note, while this is a film that you’d obviously not take a kid for, being A-rated, its lack of blood and gore and an engaging narrative rather than dread that runs through the picture. I use the word legitimate because I think it works as a gateway between “children’s horror” like Coraline or Goosebumps and full-fledged horror films which keep you up at night.
In toto, if you’re looking for an enjoyable and easy-to-watch horror film to celebrate actually being back at the cinemas, as I certainly did, I think this is a great choice.
- REAGAN GAVIN RASQUINHA