'Come Play' Fails to Turn a Five-Minute YouTube Short into a Compelling Feature Directed by Jacob Chase
Starring Azhy Robertson, Gillian Jacobs, John Gallagher Jr., Winslow Fegley
Published Oct 27, 2020Come Play is not director Jacob Chase's first swing at this story. Larry was released in 2017 — Chase's five-minute short film about the same demonic creature that haunts the main characters of Come Play. While the storybook monster may work as a spooky short to share around via YouTube, the fully realized film is just another example of the monotonous string of normie horror flicks churned out to make a buck.
Come Play centres on Oliver (Azhy Robertson), a young boy with non-verbal autism who communicates through his tablet. Due to multiple stressors such as schoolyard bullying and the suggested separation of his parents, Oliver starts to feel isolated from the people around him. That's when otherworldly demon Larry begins communicating with the boy through electronic devices. Larry's power is circumstantial — he feeds off of loneliness, and can only access his true power once the victim finishes his storybook tale, one that he projects through electronic screens.
First thing's first — "Larry"? Really? The big, bad demonic spooker has the same name as a 45 year-old man? The creature's form is definitely grotesque — roughly eight feet tall, the demon is bone-thin with a skeletal face and a body covered in slime. While his shape is the thing of nightmares, you can't help but giggle when he introduces himself, and it completely removes you from the experience. The creature is only visible in either complete darkness, or via electronic camera — having the monster's face pop up while Oliver plays with Snapchat filters is cringe-inducing.
The only decent performance in Come Play is from Azhy Robertson (Marriage Story) as Oliver. Adults have often stumbled when attempting to portray disabilities on screen, and for a child to pull off such a believable performance is the mark of a talented actor. However, the other performances are so lifeless that the attempted horrifying plotline becomes a snooze-fest — you wind up more intrigued by the Spongebob episodes playing on Oliver's tablet.
Come Play is the sleepy adaptation of a five-minute YouTube short — and when fully fleshed out, tried to resemble the successes of its genre, like The Babadook. Although it successfully shed light on a disability often under-portrayed by Hollywood, the film is forgettable, and will ultimately lose itself amongst the laundry list of cash-grab "spooky" horror films released during the season. (Focus)