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THE MOVIE GUY — Larry the Monster wants you to “Come Play”

“Come Play”

Amblin Entertainment

Directed by Jacob Chase

Starring Azhy Robertson, Gillian Jacobs, Winslow Fegley and John Gallagher, Jr.

Rated PG-13

 

2 1/2  Stars

 

Remember all those times when your mother told you to take a break from your phone?

It turns out she might have been trying to protect you from actual monsters who travel between worlds using our electronic devices.

At least that’s the premise  behind the new movie, “Come Play.” This is a better-than-expected fright flick with some good actors, a scary monster and plenty of creepy/frightening moments.

Then again, it is also a story about a monster named Larry who uses social media to terrorize kids. So, as you might guess, this story isn’t quite up to Shakespearean levels.

Azhy Robertson plays the kid, Oliver, and the interesting twist to this story is that he’s on the non-verbal side of the autism spectrum. He’s addicted to his phone, which is how Larry the monster initially finds his new prey.

Using an e-book that asks Oliver to be Larry’s friend, it only takes a couple of swipes before the monster has been invited into our world.

Larry initially stays in the shadows, appearing in flashes whenever Oliver uses his camera app. This quickly progresses to having the monster menace the boy and his friends using the house lights that suddenly go dark.

When he finally makes an appearance, the creature design turns out to be quite unsettling.

Unfortunately, Larry’s physical nature is also quite inconsistent. For example, there are moments when the monster takes a long time to cross a room, but it turns out he’s also faster than a pickup truck fleeing down the highway.

It’s sloppy monster design, although I suspect it’s mostly a case where the filmmakers cared more about the scares than logic or creature consistency.

Back on the positive side of things, I appreciated the acting, and not just Gillian Jacobs playing Oliver’s mother. She’s a surprisingly big name for a mediocre monster flick like “Come Play.”

John Gallagher Jr. is also good as the father, but I’m mostly impressed by Azhy Robertson, who must play his autistic role without any lines of dialogue to express his emotions. Kudos to the talented kid.

Ultimately, people don’t go to horror movies for the acting, so performance chops are wasted in a film like this. The important thing here is the story, which is mediocre, and the frights, which are pretty good.

The PG-13 rating keeps the scares from getting out of control, which is good because I doubt any of us want to see actual blood and menace targeted at an autistic child.

That makes “Come Play” into a mediocre-but-fun monster movie. The question is whether that will be enough to tempt fright fans into a trip to the movie theater.

Maybe Larry should send them an evite on social media.

 

Movie reviews by Sean McBride, “The Movie Guy,” are published each week by Port Arthur Newsmedia and seen weekly on KFDM and Fox4. Sean welcomes your comments via email at smcbride@sbgtv.com.