A lonely young boy feels different from everyone else. Desperate for a friend, he seeks solace and refuge in his ever-present cell phone and tablet. When a mysterious creature uses the boy’s devices against him to break into our world, his parents must fight to save their son from the monster beyond the screen.
When I first saw the poster for Jacob Chase’s Come Play, I couldn’t help but shake my head a little bit. Virtually everything about the film’s marketing looked extremely generic and similar to many other horror pictures out there. Even the tagline, “he’s good at taking friends” made me laugh, which was certainly not the intention. But I decided to give it a chance as I always tend to do with any movie at the end of the day.
After watching the film though, I was pleasantly surprised by how non-corny and silly the whole thing was. It’s certainly not your traditional horror outing and tends to focus primarily on our lead protagonist – an autistic boy named Oliver – as he navigates his school and personal life all while dealing with a storybook monster that tries to enter the real world to try to “make a friend”.
The film carries a dreary and unsettling sense of dread and is unrelentingly creepy in it s atmosphere from beginning to end, which makes up for the slower segments. In particular, the first act drags considerably as nothing of real interest happens. To be honest, the first thirty minutes plays out almost like a family drama instead of a horror movie which felt incredibly weird.
When Come Play taps into its pure horror elements, it is menacing and strong in many regards. Sadly though, there are a lot of moments where the film drags and it seems to lose focus on what it’s really about. The psychological horror moments is where the real meat and potatoes are at.
Gillian Jacobs does a truly excellent job in the role of Sarah, Oliver’s mother who always feels on edge and paranoid every passing moment. She feels perfectly unhinged and does great in the role of a concerned mother who will do whatever it takes in order to ensure her son’s safety.
Speaking of Oliver, Azhy Robertson is similarly great in the role. There were a few instances where his facial expressions seemed a bit off, but other than that, this was a great child performance. Everybody in the film did a good job with the roles that they were given and it shows in every scene.
To top things off, Come Play boasts some amazing and wonderfully dreary cinematography from Maxime Alexandre, who definitely knows how to make shadows and dark rooms creepy. There were several shots throughout that left me feeling a little creeped out in all the best ways, just like much of the film as a whole.
Come Play may suffer from a slow pace, but its greatest strengths lie within its themes of family and love, as well as its lead performances.
Overall Grade: B
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for terror, frightening images and some language
Directed by: Jacob Chase
Distributed by: Focus Features
Release Date: October 30, 2020
Running Time: 96 minutes