Come Play (2020)
Updated: Sep 4, 2023
Come Play (2020), written and directed by Jacob Chase, centers around a monster of sorts trying to communicate, or rather haunt, a child through technology and electricity. The probability of a well-rounded movie along those lines being about 50/50 Come Play 2020 did not disappoint. The main character is a child with autism named Oliver, played by Azhy Robertson, and this young actor knocks the role out of the park. He is frankly one of the only characters worth liking for the majority of the movie.
We jump right into the action from the beginning and there is amazing use of unique effects to instill fear in watchers aside from just scary images and voices. The monster, Larry, communicates mostly through a story on devices such as iPhones and iPads called, “Misunderstood Monsters,” that builds on itself throughout the movie. Viewers quickly learn that his parents struggle with raising a special needs child due to a lack of compassionate understanding on the mother’s part and a lack of responsible agency on the father’s part.
True tension is built through the use of horrifying crunching noises accompanied by flickering lights and moaning sounds. Along with sounds the ability to only see the monster, Larry, through phone and tablet cameras makes it feel the monster could be anywhere, even right in front of the characters, at any time. At one point we even see Oliver using a distance measuring tool to indicate that Larry is swiftly approaching Oliver to attack and despite those being the only elements in the scene it's scary, intense, and well done.
The "Misunderstood Monster", Larry, expresses they want a friend and has decided that Oliver is that friend. The monster is lonely and by Oliver taking their hand they plan to take Oliver away from what it considers a cruel, lonely, phone obsessed world. Oliver is chosen due to being identified as a lonely kid by the monster and he is indeed that.
Oliver faces bullying at school and incessant pressure from his mom to “be normal” as if she is anything but abnormal herself. His mom, played by Gillian Jacobs, goes as far as to alienate Oliver from his only friend by lying to his friend's mom after an incident between the two boys. As infuriating as it is to watch Oliver be bullied by that former friend, Byron, played by Winslow Fegley. In the earlier parts of the movie the performance by Fegley and the other young actors in his band of bullies is exceptional.
The storytelling is smooth and makes sense throughout, the acting performances are great all around, and the main character is very lovable. Even Oliver's mother does a redeeming thing by sacrificing herself and taking Larry’s hand instead of Oliver at the end. That scene is horrifying in itself but the movie has countless moments of terror throughout. The movie ends with the story of Larry making sense and being complete for the most part.