THEATRICAL REVIEW: Come Play a spooky delight in isolating, paranoid times

In these lonely COVID-19 times, the story of a young, mute child who is followed by monster Larry, who wants to be his friend at all costs, seems timely.

Oliver is autistic and constantly bullied by his classmates, so when a book appears in his IPad introduces him to Larry, a skeletal, hulking monster looking to make his acquaintance, he is at first relieved.

But as Larry — who manifests itself in smart phones and mobiles — soon tries to take Oliver from the earth to another world, his parents fight the creature to keep their son.

Writer-director Jacob Chase makes Come Play, based on the 2017 short film, with a style and horrific substance that will frighten even the most discerning moviegoer.

It’s a film reminiscent of my childhood favourite Darkness Falls, and its success hinges on the fantastic performance from young Azhy Robertson. Star Gillian Jacobs, who takes a different direction from the TV show Community that got her famous, is incredibly effective.

John Gallagher Jr., a bit of a horror staple himself, is great as a doting but absent father here. In fact, the entire cast elevates the material, from a script that is both terrifying but which can feel clunky.

This is director Chase’s second film and first in the horror genre, and the suspenseful, taut Come Play is one hell of a coming out party. With an atmospheric tension and a pulse-pounding third act, this is definitely worth seeing in a darkened, quiet theatre.

3.5/5 Stars

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