Under normal circumstances, plenty of us would run out to theaters and see the latest horror movies in October. In 2020 however, that likely won’t be happening. Instead, you’re probably going to end up trying to find something that you can watch from the comfort of your own home. If so, there’s a possibility that you may want to check out Come Play.
In the opening moments, we meet Oliver (Azhy Robertson), a lonely boy who’s been delivered a tough hand in life. Friendless and struggling to communicate with anyone, he seeks solace in his cell phone. Other than that, he spends his days isolated from everyone. However, that begins to change when a mysterious creature begins contacting him through the phone. Not knowing what’s happening, he soon finds himself in a frightening situation that will see his parents fighting to save him.
You generally want to feel something for the protagonist that you’re asked to follow. In Come Play, they are able to accomplish that easily and effectively. They do this by presenting the audience with Oliver, an innocent child living under difficult circumstances. Once we get a small glimpse of him and what he’s going through, finding reasons to root for him are plentiful.
Being an only child facing life with no friends, difficulties communicating, and problems at home will do that. A large chunk of the movie is dedicated to showing us his issues. In most instances, this isn’t a problem as nearly all of what’s included fits within the parameters of the movie. Based purely on memory, there were only a couple of scenes that came off as forced when attempting to achieve sympathy for the young boy.
The situations that Oliver deals with throughout are enough to help carry you through the entire film. To help out with this is Gillian Jacobs who stars as the young boy’s disheveled mother. I don’t recall her doing too many roles where she had to be serious, but that’s what’s required of her in Come Play. From the start, she puts in a lot of effort as a stressed-out mother and is pretty solid displaying the necessary emotions one might expect.
No one else is really all that important here with the exception of the antagonist, but of course, he remains a mystery for much of the film’s duration. You have Oliver’s father (played by John Gallagher Jr.) as well, but he isn’t as involved as you might originally assume. When he’s needed, he’s there, but his character isn’t all that impactful. Everyone else is either here to push the story forward, help fill us in on what’s happening or give us a few details on took place in the past.
While Come Play got what it needed from its characters, the movie does have a major issue it failed to handle properly. Obviously, with this being a horror movie, it’s important to scare your audience. Unfortunately, they never come close to achieving that goal.
No matter how good everything else is in a scary movie, the horror has to work. If it does, you can get away with clunky dialogue, bad acting, and even a complete lack of logic. As long as viewers are able to jump, be shaken, and maybe even have a hard time going to sleep for a few days, people are usually willing to forgive and ignore a lot.
Aside from the scares not actually scaring you, the biggest issue with all of what we see is that it’s mostly generic. We’ve seen a bunch of this stuff before in some fashion in previous horror films. Needless to say, this could play a part in this movie’s inability to get a reaction from viewers. Then again, some may not mind that they’re watching things that look and feel pretty familiar.
Because of that familiarity, there’s a chance that some may come away feeling like they got almost everything they wanted out of this. If you scare easily, you could still feel the effects of watching Come Play. In my opinion, that’s fine if you end up feeling that way. Maybe you’ll enjoy it upon its release. For the rest of us, it’ll be difficult trying to find enough here to be satisfied with. It’s just not scary at all.
Director: Jacob Chase
Screenwriter: Jacob Chase
John Gallagher Jr.
Film Length: 96 minutes
Release Date: October 30, 2020
Distributor: Focus Features
- Score - 4/104/10