For the last few weeks I’ve been concerned with [but horribly failing at] checking out a bunch of the horror films that I missed in 2020. I have compiled a list of movies that are being talked about in all sorts of “best of” articles, videos, and more, but it seems that there are some pretty decent ones that no one is really discussing. Read on to learn how Jacob Chase’s Come Play stacks up to the rest of the pack.
Desperate for a friend, Oliver (Azhy Robertson, Marriage Story), a lonely boy who feels different from everyone else, seeks solace and refuge in his ever-present cell phone and tablet. When a mysterious creature uses Oliver’s devices against him to break into our world, Oliver’s parents must fight to save their son from the monster beyond the screen.
When I was presented with the opportunity to give Come Play a watch, I quickly read the synopsis and nonchalantly agreed to receive a copy. The premise sounded fine enough and while none of the names attached to the film sounded familiar, it didn’t stop me from wanting to give it a fair chance.
Upon receiving said copy, I also soon realized that it is rated PG-13. While this isn’t necessarily a deal breaker for me and the horror genre, it is cause for slight concern; Will this film just be a tame snooze-fest? Am I about to watch a horror movie for kids?
After watching the full 96 minutes of the film, it is safe to say that Come Play can be a good introduction to the genre for a younger audience. The rating certainly does stay true to itself, but this isn’t to say that there aren’t actually some pretty damn creepy moments throughout.
Come Play is a technology-heavy commentary, virtually telling us that too much screen time is a bad thing. Oliver, an autistic child who has an extremely difficult time making and keeping friends finds solace in his phone and tablet. Being reliant on our smart devices is something we can all relate to, autistic or not, but what happens when that same comforting device becomes a doorway for something evil?
The antagonist introduced to audiences throughout Come Play is a creature from another plane named Larry. It is explained to us that Larry simply wants to be Oliver’s new friend, but as we learn more and more about Larry and begin to hear his story in its entirety, it is easy to see that he is no friend you ever want to have.
Created by what seems to be a combination of both practical and digital effects, Larry is quite terrifying at times. Writer and director Jacob Chase made it a conscious effort to very rarely have Larry 100% in focus, always leaving something to the viewers’ imagination. Far away glimpses through a camera screen or quick slightly blurry peeks from around the corner allow us to see just enough of this otherworldly creature to be frightened, but not enough to think he is cheesy or leave us desiring something more. Watch this movie in the dark, alone, with the volume way up and tell me that some part of you isn’t frightened by what Chase has created here.
Full of familiar faces, even if their names weren’t so, the intimately small cast for Come Play is a rather talented one. I really can’t say there was a weak link among the bunch and I quite enjoyed every actor in their own right.
Azhy Robertson, who I’ve only ever seen once before, in 2019’s Marriage Story, does a tremendous job from start to finish as our main protagonist, Oliver. His ability to express emotion without ever being able to use actual words is quite a feat, and although his actions may border on slightly annoying on a rare occasion, he’ll have you rooting for him in the end.
Additionally, both Gillian Jacobs (“Community,” The Box) and John Gallagher Jr. (10 Cloverfield Lane, Hush) do a fantastic job as Oliver’s parents. Having a rough time trying to keep their marriage together while raising a special needs child, Jacobs’ Sarah and Gallagher’s Marty truly feel like they are trying their best for their son’s sake. It is a believable story, even amidst an attack from the eater of loneliness known as Larry.
Come Play at Home
Come Play is available now on Digital and Blu-ray and DVD from Universal Home Entertainment. The Blu-ray home release presents the film in 1080p 2.39:1 Anamorphic Widescreen and features English, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 audio tracks. Also available are English SDH, French, and Spanish subtitles.
Unfortunately, there are no special features accompanying the film. I would have loved to hear from the cast and crew or have seen how they accomplished some of the special effects. Also, it would have been fantastic if the original 2017 short, also created by Chase, simply entitled “Larry” were to be included. Alas, I will have to look elsewhere for that type of supplemental material.
Don’t let the PG-13 rating fool you. Come Play is indeed more tame than most of the blood and guts horror you may be used, but it still does provide a pretty entertaining 90+ minutes with great acting, impressive creature effects, and a few good scares.
Give Come Play a watch of your own as I give it 4 talking tablets out of 5.