In Brief: A not very original and a terribly, horrible horror movie.
Originally, the movie was called Larry. I don’t care enough to find out the why of why the name got changed. Larry is a monster. He comes out of an online book and terrorizes a young autistic boy and his family. Reflecting back on the movie’s title, using Larry’s name makes more sense than Come Play because nothing in the movie has Larry asking the boy to come and play.
Oliver is autistic and can’t speak. He can, however, hear and understand. Oliver uses odd looking graphics on a phone application that lets his phone talk for him. One day a story about Larry shows up on his phone. It says the boy is lonely and needs a friend and so does Larry. When Larry holds the boy’s hand good things happen for Larry and no so many good things happen to Oliver.
Needless to say all of this freaks Oliver out to no end.
Larry’s threat then moves from Oliver to his mom and then boys who bully him and later become his friends. Last on Larry’s list is Oliver’s father. It freaks him out to no end, too.
The concept is so silly and so badly done that the freaking out to no end doesn’t end soon enough. Worse, Larry is the fakiest monster I’ve seen in movies in years. In places Larry is obviously a piece of painted plastic, or he’s a three-dimensional doll of some kind.
Other scenes have Larry’s head looking like a ghostly skull. Predictable and boring.
Oliver is played by Azhy Robertson. Donning a Danny Torrence (The Shining) haircut and with eyes and expressions to match, Robertson (Marriage Story) manages to look terrorized through most of the movie.
This is surprisingly good, and even award-worthy, acting. Come Play is a premise so contrived that it will glaze the eyes over of any kid over the age of 12. At the time the film was shot, Robertson looked under that age. Maybe that’s how he managed to stay focused.
Robertson is joined by TV’s Star Trek: Lower Decks star, Gillian Jacobs who plays his drop-dead gorgeous but totally helpless mom and 10 Cloverfield Lane’s John Gallagher Jr. does the boy’s derelict dad.
All of the actors do the best they can wading through writer/director Jacob Chase’s horrifyingly horrible screenplay. Chase — who hasn’t done anything you’ve likely ever seen — bases his movie on his own short film which brings us back to Larry.
That is the name of his 2017 short. Maybe a short version of this horror flick works but a long one does not. Larry ran five-minutes. The full-length feature, Come Play is 1:46.
As we know, ghost and monster horror movies are usually padded for length ad nauseam. But even for a padded fright flick, 1:41 is a heck of a lot of padding.
Director: Jacob Chase
Stars: Azhy Robertson, Gillian Jacobs, John Gallagher Jr., Winslow Fegley, Jayden Marine, Gavin MacIver-Wright, Jennifer Wilson, Alana-Ashley Marques, Eboni Booth
Rated PG-13 for mature themes. Come Play is so anemic it’s not likely to interest anyone in playing much less the kid the monster’s tries to catch and kill. Give this a 1 on the Friday Flicks with Gary 0 to 5 scale.
This one can be found in theaters. Click here to see where you can see Come Play.
Gary Wolcott has been reviewing movies on radio, television and newspaper since 1990. He believes — and this is an estimate only — that he’s seen something close to 10,000 movies in his lifetime. Gary is a lifelong fan of films and catches a couple of hundred movies a year. He believes movies ought to be seen on the big screen and not on the small screen in your living room or family room. While he loves movies, he also says reviewing film can be a real sacrifice and that he sees many movies so you don’t have to.
He is one of KXL 101.1 FM’s film critics and joined the news staff in 2014. Gary is also the film critic for Tri-Cities, Washington’s Tri-City Herald.