Come Play is a 2020 American horror film written and directed by Jacob Chase. It stars Gillian Jacobs, John Gallagher Jr., Azhy Robertson, and Winslow Fegley. The film follows the parents of an elementary school student with autism as they try to protect their young son from "Larry", a villainous nighttime monster that preys on the innocence of children.
|Directed by||Jacob Chase|
|Screenplay by||Jacob Chase|
by Jacob Chase
|Music by||Roque Baños|
|Edited by||Gregory Plotkin|
|Distributed by||Focus Features|
|Box office||$13.2 million|
It was theatrically released in the United States on October 30, 2020, by Focus Features. It received mixed reviews from critics and grossed $13 million against a budget of $9 million.
Oliver is a young non-verbal autistic boy who uses a smartphone to communicate with people. He attends school and is mostly taken care of by his mother, Sarah; his father Marty spends most of his time at work trying to make ends meet. Sarah and Marty's marriage has become difficult to the extent that Marty moves out. One night Oliver sees an app on his smartphone, "Misunderstood Monsters", narrating the story of a monster named "Larry" who "just wants a friend". Strange things begin happening to Oliver after he reads the story: lights go out by themselves, and a second face appears on his tablet while he plays with a picture app. At school, Oliver is bullied by his classmates due to his condition. They lure him into a field and take his phone, throwing it out into the field.
One night, Sarah organizes a sleepover so Oliver can become more social. The three boys who bullied him come over. Oliver hides the tablet as he is terrified of it. One of the boys retrieves the tablet and reads the story. The lights go out and Larry appears, but he can only be seen through the camera of the tablet. Larry attacks Byron, one of the boys, and the terrified boys all blame Oliver for the incident. In the following days, Sarah begins to see the same strange things Oliver did. Confronting Larry through Oliver's tablet, she learns that Larry wishes to "take" Oliver back to his home world.
That night, Marty takes Oliver to his night-shift parking lot attendant job. Larry, revealing as a skeletal creature similar to a ghoul, begins to stalk them. When Marty witnesses Larry picking Oliver off from the ground, he finally believes Sarah and Oliver. They break the tablet and assume everything is over. Byron is traumatized from the incident at Oliver's house but comes clean on what really happened, absolving Oliver of blame. It is revealed that Byron and Oliver were once friends but their friendship ended because Oliver accidentally hurt Byron which also caused their moms to break up their friendship. They both reconcile.
One night at work, Marty is attacked by Larry, who can travel through electricity and usually communicates with people through screens. Marty is hurt but alive. Larry proceeds to attack Oliver at his house, intending to take the boy. Sarah trashes all electrical devices in the house, but the TV finishes playing Larry's story before she can shut it off. Larry takes physical form, being able to move in real life without the use of a screen, and begins to stalk them throughout the house. Oliver takes Sarah to the field where there is no electricity for Larry to follow them with, but Larry uses Oliver's phone that the boys threw earlier to trap them there.
Oliver must take Larry's hand to enter Larry's world, but at the last second, Sarah takes Larry's hand instead, offering to go with him and become his friend instead of Oliver. In their final moments, Oliver looks Sarah in the eye for the first time, something Sarah has struggled with ever since Oliver was diagnosed. Larry takes Sarah and they both vanish, leaving Oliver alone. In the aftermath, Oliver lives with Marty, and they intend to deal with their loss. Marty gets more involved with Oliver's therapy.
One night, the lights go out again and strange noises are heard downstairs. Marty grabs his phone and sees Oliver and Sarah, who has been taken by Larry, playing happily. Sarah tells her son "I'll protect you", as Marty smiles.
It was announced in October 2018 that Jacob Chase would write and direct a film adaptation of his short film Larry. In September 2018, Gillian Jacobs and Azhy Robertson were cast in the film, and in November 2018, John Gallagher Jr. was added as well.
Come Play was theatrically released in the United States on October 30, 2020. It was previously scheduled to be released on July 24, 2020, but the release was rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The studio spent "in the high single digit million range" promoting the film.
The film grossed $1 million from 2,183 theaters on its first day, including $150,000 from Thursday night previews. It went on to debut to $3.2 million, over the October 30–November 1 Halloween weekend, coming in slightly above projections and topping the box office. The film fell 45% to $1.7 million in its second weekend, finishing second, after fellow Focus Features release Let Him Go, and then made $1.1 million in its third weekend.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes the film holds an approval rating of 57% based on 107 reviews, with an average rating of 6/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "A frightening feature debut from Jacob Chase, Come Play makes up for its uneven tone by adding real depth to its jarring scares." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 58 out of 100, based on 21 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews." Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B–" on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported 60% of audience members gave the film a positive score, with 40% saying they would definitely recommend it.
David Ehrlich, writing for IndieWire, gave the film a "C–" grade, writing, "merely serviceable, [the film] leaves you with the feeling that a much better game was lost in the shuffle." The A.V. Club's A. A. Dowd gave it a "B" and called it "an Amblin entertainment in the purest, classic sense." In Variety's review, Courtney Howard stated, "The title stands as a beckoning call to audiences to join in the devilish delights he’s conjured. Yet the scares in the tale fail to scale from a mobile device to the big screen."
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- Kit, Borys (6 September 2018). "Gillian Jacobs to Star in Amblin Horror Thriller 'Larry' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
- D'Alessandro, Anthony (26 November 2018). "John Gallagher Jr. Joins Amblin Horror Thriller 'Larry'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
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- D'Alessandro, Anthony (November 8, 2020). "'Let Him Go' Delivers First Ever Back-To-Back No. 1 B.O. Opening For Focus Features After Last Weekend's 'Come Play' In Pandemic Market". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved November 8, 2020.
- D'Alessandro, Anthony (November 15, 2020). "Blumhouse Body Swap Horror Comedy 'Freaky' Takes In $3.7M, On Par With Other No. 1 Pics During Fall Pandemic". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved November 15, 2020.
- "Come Play (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved February 14, 2021.
- "Come Play Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved November 6, 2020.
- Ehrlich, David (October 28, 2020). "'Come Play' Review: An Uninspired Horror Movie About the Demon Trapped in Your iPad". Indiewire. Retrieved October 31, 2020.
- Dowd, A. (October 28, 2020). "Come Play review: If Steven Spielberg directed The Babadook, it would play a lot like Come Play". The A.V. Club. Retrieved October 31, 2020.
- Howard, Courtney (October 28, 2020). "'Come Play' Review: The Ghost in the Machine Has a Few Bugs in the Programming". Variety. Retrieved October 31, 2020.