Come Play Movie Review
The Babadook only a lot less scary, Come Play is a horror movie with a clever hook—a non-verbal autistic boy is “befriended” by a monster—but not much else.
Writer/director Jacob Chase, building off his 2017 short film Larry, offers up a premise that is compelling enough but an end product that squarely falls into the “generic PG-13 horror” sub-genre, complete with forgettable cliches, shoddy dialogue, and a notable lack of legit scares.
Azhy Robertson is fine in the lead role, playing a kid who can only communicate by pressing buttons on his phone/tablet. He’s convincing enough as a child with autism, but it quickly becomes clear that Chase is more interested in the monster (Larry) who, at least at first, can only be seen through electronics, than telling a unique horror story that plays off the autism angle. Robertson just isn’t given much to do, and as the movie progresses it seems to become much more about the parents (Gillian Jacobs, John Gallagher Jr.) finding a way to save their son than their son doing much of anything. It’s a shame, because instead of delivering a movie with a near-silent lead and leaning into sound and visual terror, we get a bunch of scenes with the adults inanely speaking plot points to one another to progress the story.
The horror elements are just hugely disappointing. While the creature design of Larry is creepy enough, Chase is simply unable to establish suspense, let alone scariness. Furniture moves and faces reside in the shadows, but it’s all stuff that has been done significantly better elsewhere. Exemplifying this is a scene where another boy admits that it wasn’t the child with autism who terrorized him but a monster, and he just starts repeating himself over and over as if possessed or otherwise inflicted... but he’s not. Chase just had him do it because it’s been done effectively in other movies.
Come Play is harmless, but in yet another year of great, inventive horror films, why spend even a minute with this one? I’d play elsewhere.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.