Oliver (Azhy Robertson, The Plot Against America) is an autistic boy who has never really spoken words. Instead, he communicates via an app on his phone that speaks the words for him. Oliver often gets overwhelmed and starts shaking and moaning, and must relive his stress by spinning in circles, rustling his fingers, or watching endless episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants on his mobile device. He doesn’t really have any friends at school—the other kids make fun of him, calling him names like Moaner Boner. Adding to Oliver’s stress is the fact that he constantly hears his mother (Gillian Jacobs, Love, Coommunity) and father (John Gallagher Jr., Westworld, The Newsroom) arguing, and that his father is in the process of moving out.
One night at bedtime, Oliver’s cell phone suddenly turns on, displaying a book called “Misunderstood Monsters”. The story is about a monster named Larry who really wants a friend because everyone makes fun of him for behing different (sounds familiar!). As Oliver reads through the story, the lights in the house flicker and go out, and he hears cracking and scraping. The book says that once Larry’s story has been read, he won’t stop until he finds a new friend, holds their hand, and takes them back to his world to play with him forever. Oliver tries to hide under the covers, and close his bedroom door, but it keeps opening back up again. He becomes increasingly frightened, and turns on the camera app and flash on his phone to see what’s in the bedroom. As he’s panning around the room, he notices that the camera app has recognized a second face in the room with him! At first no one believes Oliver, but the evidence starts piling up, and the signs that Larry is really after Oliver and his family are hard to ignore. Now Oliver and his parents are desperate to get away from Larry, who appears to be stalking them via their electrical devices and smart phones, and he won’t stop until he finds his new friend and takes them away!
Come Play is written and directed by Jacob Chase, who also created the original 2017 short film, “Larry”, on which the feature is based. I thoroughly enjoyed this film, which had me constantly on the edge of my seat. While the concept of the film is incredibly simple, the execution is really well done. The filmmakers have done an excellent job of slowly building the tension, both with what you can see and even more-so with what you can’t. Initially the viewer just sees the creepy drawings of Larry in the book on Oliver’s phone, but don’t actually see him in the house. There viewer just hears the eerie cracking, moaning and scratching of his presence, and the flickering of lights. Larry cannot be seen via the naked eye, and so the characters often have to hold up mobile devices to scan the room for his presence, and even then Larry is just slowly revealed little by little. Even though I knew something was coming whenever Oliver would pan a room with his phone or tablet, those jump scares got me every time! As Larry stalks his new friend, the camera sometimes even takes his creepy perspective, watching Oliver from inside the phone. The writers also cleverly introduce some seemingly-trivial things early on in the film that come back into play later on for a great payoff. In addition to the monster thriller aspect of the film, the movie also has some interesting character drama and arcs that develop over the course of the movie. Most of the characters find themselves transformed during this harrowing ordeal with Larry as they are forced to either step up to stop this monster, or realize after-the-fact what actually led to the situation in the first place.
Universal’s Blu-ray release looks and sounds excellent. This is a film that often takes place in the dark, but the picture always remains clean and clear, with a strong level of detail throughout. The sound is really what makes this film, and the presentation is excellent—initially we don’t really see Larry, but the cracking, scraping and thudding as he approaches really fills and bounces around the room, helping to give a chilling tension and terror. The Blu-ray comes packed in a standard HD keepcase with a slipcover and includes a slip with redemption instructions for an HD Movies Anywhere-compatible digital copy of the film, plus a bonus Universal All-Access Rewards points code that can be used for a free digital movie or towards other rewards. However, there is absolutely no bonus material included, not even the trailer, or the original short film on which the movie was based.
- 1080p / Widescreen 2.39:1
- Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English DVS (Descriptive Video Service), Spanish 5.1 DTS Digital Surround, French 5.1 DTS Digital Surround
- Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
- HD digital copy redeemable via Movies Anywhere or Vudu
- Universal All-Access Rewards Code (Offer may not be valid after 12/31/2025)
Code can be redeemed for points towards a free digital movie or other items in the new Universal All-Access Rewards program. The selection of free digital titles changes every two months and, as of December 1, 2020, include Larry Crowne, Closed Circuit, The Adjustment Bureau, Battleship, and American Reunion. (This selection will likely change on February 1, 2021.)
Digital (code may not be valid after 3/31/2022):
There is no supplemental material included on the disc, not even a trailer or a preview.
Come Play is a thoroughly entertaining thriller. It takes the simple premise of a lonely monster living inside our electronic devices looking for a friend, and executes it in a way that takes the viewer on the thrilling ride. It builds the tension and throws in a few jump scares as it slowly reveals the extent of this chilling monster. At the same time, it tells the story of these broken parents who are trying to do the best for their son, but ultimately it is some of those deicisions that make things worse with the monster. Universal’s presentation looks and sounds great, but the disc is barebones with no bonus material. For that reason, folks may opt for the 4K digital release. Either way, this is definitely a film worth owning for any thriller movie fan.