Come Play – R – 1 hr 36 min
NO SPOILERS Movie Review
Watched in theater Thursday October 29, 2020
AMC Lakewood 12 – Lakewood, Washington
#41 new movie seen in theater in 2020
Oliver is a young autistic boy that has trouble making friends. He uses a phone app to select words to be read aloud by the app, since he doesn’t speak. An app on his phone keeps recurring showing a story about an unusual monster named Larry. The creature wants to use his phone or other screens as a portal to Oliver’s world.
This story somewhat reminded me of Dweller by Jeff Strand. That’s a much better story and covers the whole pet monster idea from a position of truly scary horror. The main difference here is Oliver doesn’t want this pet monster to be his friend, so Larry is setup as an antagonist early on in the story.
Let’s talk about the name. As far as monster names go, Larry doesn’t cut it — at all. I mean, what’s scary about “Larry”? A monster name needs to sound scary. The Unusual Monster book that tells Larry’s story is kind of intriguing. It explains that Larry just wants to find a friend, but its idea of friendship is take his hand and he will pull you into his world.
Larry’s method of moving around between Oliver’s world and wherever it comes from is through screens and something to do with electricity. The film spends way too much time on the whole electrical disturbance part every time Larry is near. I mean, how many lightbulbs smashing and going dark do we need to see to have that point drilled home? It’s not like Larry is a poltergeist. The effect could have been a lot more effective if barely used instead of overused. That’s the signature of amateurish horror filmmaking: overdoing jumpscares, too many sudden, loud noises, the antagonist hiding too many times in the dark and so on. A little of this can set a good atmosphere.
Another knock: the trailer spoiled most of Larry’s appearance. One of the most gripping part of the movie is Larry moving around the house and we’ve already seen it. Don’t you hate it when trailers take the best parts of movies? That’s definitely the case here.
This movie is missing a good scary soundtrack. It needs something like John Carpenter would do to take this out of the amazing world of Steven Spielberg. I’m a Spielberg fan, but his movies — some (very) notable exceptions like Jaws aside — tend to be more fanciful, adventurous and fun than scary.
Bottom line: this movie is plagued with a genre identity problem. If it was trying to be scary, it mostly isn’t. It is better telling a dramatic story about a boy with autism and how he interacts with other children, his parents and the evolution of his social skills with the introduction of an ugly otherworldly character.
This isn’t a terrible movie, just mediocre. Kara couldn’t stand it, but she’s not very into horror, so her commentary above should keep that in mind. I’m a lifelong horror fan, but this missed the mark. It tried, and I could see where it was focusing — on the spookiness of Larry being able to come in and out of our world, but while the framework has potential, the execution is off.
Instead of recommending to see this, again, if you are a horror fan, and enjoy reading go check out Jeff Strand’s book mentioned above. It’s a fast, furious read. Sorry Larry, not recommending anybody play with you — and it’s not for the reasons the filmmakers intended.
Rating (out of 5 stars): ⭐️⭐️ (Todd) ⭐️ (Kara)