Oliver is a young non-verbal autistic boy who communicates through tablets and smartphones. His parents are struggling with their relationship, he is bullied at school, and he is lonely and longing for a friend. As Oliver is spending most of his time trying to comfort himself with Spongebob episodes and using the Snapchat filter for fun and giggles in his own room, a strange story suddenly appears on the screen. It’s the story about Larry, or “The Misunderstood Monster”. This mysterious creature is trying to use Oliver’s devices in order to break into his world, but will his parents be able to save him before it’s too late?
Come Play is a movie that’s based on a short horror film titled Larry by Jacob Chase. Chase is both the director and writer of this movie as well. It’s his first feature film, and as a debut it’s a solid performance where he proves that he knows how to utilize certain tricks in order to kick up the atmosphere a few notches. While a considerable part of the movie is centered around the family drama, it manages to make it credible without taking away the focus from the monster. If you have seen other boogeyman-movies like for example the Australian The Babadook, you might easily agree with the necessity to delve into family tension before bringing out the monster tension.
Now, as for the monster itself…it is creepy mostly when you don’t fully see it (which is often the case with monsters in movies). The illustrations in Larry’s “story” are very atmospheric, however, where you see him in various poses without ever showing his face to the viewer. The style of the illustrated story helps bringing in a lot of tension in regards to the monster and our expectations of what he actually looks like.
While the original horror short does come off as a bit more creepy since there is practically nothing revealed about Larry at all, Come Play is a decent feature film version based on a simple idea that was given a bit more flesh. While it’s not really a movie that will scare your socks off or anything, and is probably mostly aimed at a younger audience, I hope Chase is planning to make more horror films in the future. Also, I like the movie’s obvious allegory: how technology, which is supposed to bring people more together, often make them more lonely than ever…and how it’s easy to become prey to whoever wants to manipulate you from the other side of the screen.
Director: Jacob Chase
Country & year: USA, 2020
Actors: Azhy Robertson, Gillian Jacobs, John Gallagher Jr., Winslow Fegley, Jayden Marine, Gavin MacIver-Wright, Rachel Wilson, Alana-Ashley Marques