Christine Elise McCarthy stars in CHILD'S PLAY 2, directed by John Lafia for Universal Pictures.

Child’s Play 2 (1990, John Lafia)

When George Miller made the third Mad Max, he got someone else to direct the kids. John Lafia had directed one movie prior to Child’s Play 2—maybe someone should have made a similar suggestion. Under Lafia’s direction, ten-year old Alex Vincent’s performance is an abject disaster. The performance is so terrible, it isn’t even amusing. Lafia manages to suck the “so bad it’s good” right out from it.

I’ve seen some of Child’s Play 2 before. Years ago, it used to play a lot on some channel and I know I caught the end at least twice. The end is probably the best part of the movie, if only because the lapses in logic aren’t as pronounced and at least it’s going to be over soon. There are so many plot holes, one would have to watch the movie with a pen and paper ready. They’re usually just the stupid ones—like why does Christine Elise McCarthy, with the killer doll on her bumper, run into a pole when there’s a wall (the impact would crush the doll) about six feet away. Or, my personal favorite, how come no one ever discovers the murder victims? There are at least two who should be discovered—they have jobs, people will miss them—and nothing. It’s like Don Mancini couldn’t be bothered with any logic.

If I hadn’t seen the first one, I’d probably dismiss this movie as a failed concept, something without any possibilities. But the first one’s well-done so this sequel obviously has problems. Lafia’s probably the biggest. Well, no. I suppose the lack of budget is the biggest problem.

But Lafia can’t direct Vincent or McCarthy or Jenny Agutter or anyone else. He can’t even direct cinematographer Stefan Czapsky. The whole thing’s shot with this distorting lens—to show the world from Vincent’s perspective perhaps—and it’s silly. Czapsky can do the shot, but Lafia doesn’t seem to understand why he asked for it.

There’s lots of special acting too. Jenny Agutter’s performance is horrid. Grace Zabriskie is bad too. Greg Germann approaches all right in a small role. Gerrit Graham is good. McCarthy is bad but likable enough. She’s fine, compared to the rest of the cast.

Writer Mancini’s approach to the killer doll is different here. He’s more of a central character, but there’s no suspense. The movie completely fails to frighten, which instead leaves one to concentrate on the characters’ fear. Except none of the characters are smart enough to be afraid.

I’m real mad Agutter’s death scene was off screen. I think if they’d left it in, the experience would be rather cathartic. Besides her, the only character I really wished harm would befall is Vincent. The kid’s obnoxious and the role’s a writing disaster. However, Lafia doesn’t deliver. It’s weird to watch the deserving killer doll in trouble—Brad Dourif does a fine job with the voice work—and feel bad because it isn’t the innocent little kid.

And Graeme Revell’s music is okay too. Oh, and the big reveal when McCarthy discovers the doll is alive is well done.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by John Lafia; written by Don Mancini; director of photography, Stefan Czapsky; edited by Edward Warschilka; music by Graeme Ravell; production designer, Ivo Cristante; produced by David Kirschner; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Alex Vincent (Andy Barclay), Jenny Agutter (Joanne Simpson), Gerrit Graham (Phil Simpson), Christine Elise McCarthy (Kyle), Brad Dourif (Chucky), Grace Zabriskie (Grace Poole), Peter Haskell (Sullivan), Beth Grant (Miss Kettlewell) and Greg Germann (Mattson).


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