Vampire Owl: Strange people calling us to play at this point of time. Why?
Vampire Bat: Yes, I think that they are the brain-repaired zombies.
Vampire Owl: So, zombies now have their brains repaired?
Vampire Bat: Yes, they manage the repair with the brains that they eat.
Vampire Owl: I am still not sure why they would want us to play with them though.
Vampire Bat: Well, they want our vampire brains for further repair.
Vampire Owl: In that case, I would tell them to find some of those evil humans.
Vampire Bat: Well, evil humans are easy to find. We can refer them directly.
Vampire Owl: Yes, almost every one among them qualifies as evil according to the definition.
Vampire Bat: Let the zombies and humans meet each other soon enough through the next viral apocalypse.
[Gets a vegetable samosa and three glasses of oreo shake].
What is the movie about? :: Oliver (Azhy Robertson) is an autistic boy who cannot talk either, and uses a smartphone so that he can communicate with people. One night, he finds an app on his mobile named “Misunderstood Monsters” which talks about the story of a monster named Larry who is different, and therefore nobody wants to be his friend, even though the only thing that the creature wants is friendship. He does have his own episodes of screaming at night, and his mother Sarah (Gillian Jacobs) has some tough time with it. She also feels that her husband and the child’s father Marty (John Gallagher Jr) is just not doing enough for the troubled child, as he is almost always working. Oliver is troubled by his classmates who don’t like him as he gets special treatment due his disabilities. They also try bullying him, and also takes away his mobile phone, throwing it into the field near the school. At the same time, the relationship between Sarah and Marty only gets worse.
So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Sarah is not happy because she feels that Oliver only likes Marty, because he is the earning member of the family, and always brings the child the presents. As the tablet which Marty brought for him as a present identifies someone else with Oliver in the room with its face recognition software, there seems to be something wrong. The tablet actually starts talking to him using the same app which he was using to talk to others, and it identifies itself as Larry, who just wants to be a friend. As Marty who is bothered by Sarah’s talks finally decides to move out, the latter organizes a sleepover to help Oliver to become more social. But the chosen friends are the boys who had earlier bullied Oliver. Oliver hides the tablet as he is afraid of it, but the other boys find it, with a boy reading the story. It leads to Larry appearing, and things, as expected, can only get worse. But who would believe that Oliver is not responsible for all that is happening in house, and that there is a supernatural force at work?
The defence of Come Play :: There are some interesting scares added here and there in the movie, and some of them are more effective than the rest. The darkness and the sound effects are used well, as the visual effectiveness gets only better at the later stages of the film. The demon at work here is pretty good, and the idea that it can be seen in its original form through the tablet opens another dimension for horror very well. The idea of loneliness being spread through technology feels real, and as part of our present world. The demons from inside the technology – social media and the internet, mobile phones and laptops, they are all more real than ever. They might not be having an exact form these days, but they are present at all times, and even in the absence of the supernatural, the human evil shows its presence. Come Play’s monster can also be seen as a reflection of such evil humans, and the film also scores with a fine emotional side. It is not that easy to escape from such realistic monsters.
The claws of flaw :: Come Play could have added more effective creature horror rather than focusing more on those quick scares, and use of divergent creatures is nothing new, as we know from movies like Lights Out and It Follows. One does feel that something better could have been added with the creature detail, as better design only means the possibility of something better around here. With such a premise, it is not ready to take the risk, and that is surprising, because there was a lot that could be done with this particular monster. It could have gone beyond one family, and maybe it could have also had a background story – instead, we go for the safe zone with singular focus around here. An appearance of the monster at school, or at shops would have also been useful. The ending of the film also seems forced, and it doesn’t try to take a peek into the other dimension. All the build-up surely required more than this, as we look close here.
Performers of the soul :: Gillian Jacobs is very effective in becoming the motherly figure in a horror movie, and seemingly suiting the horror genre well. She is the one person who is there throughout the film as a mother who tries to understand, and is also the kind of person who would suit a horror film with younger cast, as she looks very much young. She does shine as the mother who has made some mistakes in the past, but does love her child and is ready to make all the sacrifices for him, as she also gets certain emotional moments which are of quality. John Gallagher Jr joins as the father figure well enough too. There are some moments for him too, especially with the creature making it to him. Azhy Robertson plays the child in trouble well, and Winslow Fegley plays his friend without much trouble. Some good performances from children also means that the horror story has better strength. The monster here is a fine performer all by himself, but a creature of electricity is surely capable of more – maybe the creature required a face too.
How it finishes :: Come Play might be a lesser known horror film in comparison to others, but is one effective work anyway. When children are involved, and when there is a monster from another dimension trying to come in through technology, one knows that this cannot be of lesser horror, especially with so many more people getting into technology due to the Corona virus pandemic and the related lock-down, work from home, schooling from home and more. Another film, Chathur Mukham has also dealt with the same thing, in Malayalam. Demons as part of technology can only get worse – we have watched Pretham and its sequel too. Let us have as many monsters are we need, because humans and the one virus spreading all over the world has made it much worse for the world. At least these monsters stick to a routine, but not those whom we see in real life. If you are looking for a similar movie with children and demons, you might also want to watch the Spanish film, Don’t Listen and the Korean one, The Closet.
Release date: 30th October 2020
Running time: 96 minutes
Directed by: Jacob Chase
Starring: Gillian Jacobs, John Gallagher Jr, Azhy Robertson, Winslow Fegley, Rachel Wilson, Jayden Marine as Mateo, Gavin MacIver-Wright, Eboni Booth, Dalmar Abuzeid
@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.