In the horror genre, children tend to have a faster and firmer understanding of whatever the threat is than the adults in the room, and it is often through them that the grown-ups gets a true sense of what’s really at stake. This device has been used in several horror films over the decades. Stephen King once said that children “think around corners instead of in straight lines,” and they live in a “dream state,” which might explain why children in horror movies are often the first to notice or come in contact with spooky menaces within their environments. The kid in Focus Features’ upcoming Halloween release, “Come Play,” continues that trend, as the first trailer for the film indicates.
Written and directed by Jacob Chase, in “Come Play,” an indescribable monster named “Larry” targets a family by manifesting itself via their mobile devices, including tablets and smartphones.
Based on Chase’s 2017 short film “Larry,” the official synopsis for “Come Play” reads: “Newcomer Azhy Robertson stars as Oliver, a lonely young boy who 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 Oliver’s devices against him to break into our world, Oliver’s parents (Gillian Jacobs and John Gallagher Jr.) must fight to save their son from the monster beyond the screen.”
As the trailer suggests, “Larry” is essentially a component of the digital world that blends into Oliver’s perception of the real world — or what is known as augmented reality. Although, in this case, “Larry” is self aware and wants to manifest itself in the real world.
In horror movies of yesteryear, protagonists, would often be cut off from civilization, with no landlines, Internet access or cell phone signals to speak of, and therefore no way to call for help when most needed.
But with smartphones and other mobile devices as ubiquitous as they are now, modern horror filmmakers have to rethink these tropes, and find new, interesting, and most importantly, scary ways to incorporate communication technology into their stories.
Whether-writer/director Chase has accomplished this remains to be seen. “Come Play” was originally set for a July 24 theatrical release, but the pandemic had other plans, as has been the case for the majority of film releases over the last five months. Produced by The Picture Company for Amblin Partners, the film is now set for an October 30th release, just in time for Halloween.
Check out the first trailer for “Come Play.”