Come Play (Blu-Ray)

HANDOUT IMAGE: COME PLAY by writer/director Jacob Chase. *USE ONLY WITH DIRECT COVERAGE OF (movie), ACROSS PLATFORMS, NO SALES, NO TRADES*. NO SALES. NO TRADES. FOR USE ONLY WITHIN THE MOVIE'S PUBLICITY WINDOW. Image from Focus Features press website. © 2020 FOCUS FEATURES LLC AND STORYTELLER DISTRIBUTION CO., LLC. Credit : Jasper Savage / Amblin Partners / Focus Features

The Movie

There’s a good chance you missed out on Come Play when it hit theaters (remember those?) this past Halloween. With its home entertainment arrival, however, you’ll be able to change that…if you’re so inclined. 

The film is directed by Jacob Chase, based on his short film Larry. The idea is relatively simple: there’s an other-worldly monster who makes contact via the screens on our devices. These windows into our world is a bridge he uses to cross over (when his story is read) to entrap children and bring them his world. 

Oliver has become the latest focus of “Larry” who begins reaching out to him, via a super creepy story, through his phone. Oliver is autistic and non-verbal; he’s something of an outsider and can only communicate via an app on his phone. As such, he seems like the perfect lonely candidate for Larry to try and “make friends” with. 

As Larry becomes more aggressive in his attempts, Oliver’s life at home with his estranged parents (Sarah and Marty) becomes increasingly strange and terrifying. Fighting back against a monster you cannot see, except through a phone/tablet lens definitely isn’t easy…

I don’t want to get into spoilers here for those looking to go into it fresh, so I won’t say much more. It brings in some really neat ideas and a premise that has potential. The idea of a monster hiding within our technology, behind the screens we use every day, is an intriguing one. How the creature interacts with the world, and terrorizes others was interesting, but in many ways, it’s a fairly basic horror creature feature that doesn’t make full use of its unique elements.

Ultimately, I found myself bored throughout the film and waiting on something to happen. Despite its relatively short runtime, it feels like it struggles to pad out it’s short-film idea into a full film. Tossing in the broken family, plus a couple plots pulled straight out of other films (Babadook especially) feels like an attempt to force audiences into certain emotions, without actually earning them. 

There are moments of brilliance and genuine chills, but chances are you saw them used in the trailer. It’s a film I wanted to enjoy (I’m not big on horror, but love monster/creature features), but there’s just not enough here. 

Sight and Sound

On a technical level, the Come Play blu-ray itself is just fine. The image quality is crisp and clear, with deep blacks that allow all the details in the (many) nighttime scenes to pop. The sound is similar, with great use of surround that makes you feel immersed in the world they’ve created. Definitely nothing to complain about in terms of how it looks when you’re watching! 

The Bonus Features

Welp, here is where I would normally talk about the special features included on the home entertainment release…Alas, there are NONE included. It’s strange to see absolutely nothing extra on this release (heck, it doesn’t even come with a DVD copy). Considering the film found its roots in a short film, and has a unique/interesting monster, it’s crazy they didn’t include any making-of elements going into the design and transition from short-to-feature film.