The Imitation Game

Well-crafted yet clichéd, “Come Play” is a horror movie that begs you to play a scene-by-scene game: can you name each film it’s copying? While it’s a credit to director Jacob Chase that he doesn’t bore you employing inherent haunts, “Come Play” still comes across as a monster movie Mad Libs.

 “Come Play’s” familiarity begins early when we meet Oliver (Azhy Robertson), an autistic boy (with a striking resemblance to “The Shining’s” Danny Lloyd) who communicates with the aid of a mobile device with an app like Speak and Say. Charging the device one night, Oliver sees an e- book appear entitled ‘Misunderstood Monsters.’ The story of the book centers on Larry- a grotesque, tall, skeletal monster looking for a friend. As you read the story, each page brings Larry closer to entering our world from his dimension until you’ve inadvertently used the device as a portal for Larry’s arrival. How do you know he’s around? The lights around you begin to flicker and blow out as Larry sucks their energy.

 Others soon begin to know of Larry’s existence. When Oliver’s mother Sarah (Gillian Jacobs) begins to replace the light bulbs Larry blew out from his previous presence, she leaves the room and reenters to see each light has been reinstalled complete with the shades being placed back on the lamps- oh that Larry.

 Having monsters pop out of books like “The Babadook” or seeing objects in a room reassembled (like the kitchen chairs) in “Poltergeist” only begin to serve as examples of films Chase copies to make his 2017 short film into a feature. Yet even with scenes seemingly transplanted from movies like “Lights Out,” “The Invisible Man,” and “Candyman, it’s tough to bash “Come Play” (how many times have we seen a vampire movie where the born-again bloodsucker is brought back into action by seeing a modern girl who looks like his former love?). Even so, the movie offers little more than a slick shuffle of scary stereotypes.  Complete with lapses in reason, jump scares, and characters lingering too long in the dark looking for something they’ll regret finding, “Come Play” isn’t anything we haven’t seen before. It’s a standard scare, comfortable in its horror movie genre conventions, that’s not overtly stupid in how it uses familiar frights.

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