My Rating: 8/10
Warning: I may or may not be sleep-deprived and completely incapable of maintaining any semblance of professionalism during this review. Also beware very minor spoilers.
Come Play is a creature feature, and the featured creature in this movie introduces himself pretty early as “Larry”. Now I have a lot to say about Larry, but first, in the spirit of pretending this is all pro and shit, I guess I should talk about the protags.
Oliver is an adorable kid with autism. His family’s going through a divorce, he’s lonely and treated like shit at school, there’re bullies, and incompetent adults, and a ton of pressure from all angles for him to be ‘normal’. Pretty much everything you’d expect from a horror movie with a child protag, with everyone’s ignorance about autism amplifying the trope tenfold.
The parents are a train wreck. The dad doesn’t give a shit, the mother’s all concerned about her own experience, and low-key seems to resent her son for it. Also, she keeps disappearing? Like wandering off or some shit? Even in really tense dangerous moments when 99% of parents who give a shit would NOT take their eyes off their kid, she’s fucked off for like ten minutes. The amount of times I threw my hands up and was like “Welp, she’s gone” is ridiculous, and I’m unsure if that was intentional incompetence or iffy script writing/directing.
There are problematic things with the autism, especially in the conclusiony area, but mostly the depiction is realistic enough and the actor, Azhy Robertson, does an outstanding job with it.
But Larry! Oh man, Larry’s got some skills! He changes lightbulbs, he writes books, he can silence car alarms and use phones like a pro. Oh, and he’s a super fast runner! Kinda cute too. Imagine if Slenderman and a gremlin banged. Larry’s pretty much what their lovechild would look like. He’s lonely and helpful and protective and honestly, we could all use a friend like Larry.
There are plenty of nicely creative, spooky moments. Some typical shit too, but I like the spin this movie put on the creep factor. The special effects are cool and rely more on shadows, lights, tech, and audio, rather than leaning too hard on CGI. This movie plays well with subtext. With the implied threat. Also, there are some close-ups of the characters smiling in the middle of high-stakes scenes that are legit creepier than anything Larry has done.
I’d like to go this whole review without mentioning horror-movie-itis, but there are definitely a few moments where I groaned and argued with the characters and their shitty decisions. Especially Oliver’s mother… Okay, it was like 95% Oliver’s mother.
This was a good movie, though, despite his mother’s best efforts to make my eyes roll constantly out of my head. Even she couldn’t ruin it. Because Larry’s fucking boss, man. He just wants you to read his book and be his friend. That’s such a mood.
I’ll be your friend, Larry. I’ll read your book. For real, we can swap critiques.
Watch this movie. Do it for Larry.
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Sam Clover is an author of M/M speculative fiction. Though she dabbles in a variety of genres, dark themes always find ways to permeate her work. She is a prairie girl from east of the Canadian Rockies, and a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community. Her debut book “Cold Snap” was released by Ninestar Press in December of 2020.