Let’s go ahead and say that the movies definitely take the idea of an imaginary friend and turn it on its head without thinking of what it might do to those that watch such movies. But the over the top feel of Come Play is more than enough to make it clear that entertainment and reality are still two separate things that can be easily kept apart. This movie was fairly creepy in that it had the eerie, undeniable feeling of being something that was meant to be creepy and absolutely terrifying, but the acting was one of the elements that kept it from being entirely convincing since the mother and father of young Oliver felt almost hollow in a way, as though their attitude toward the main threat in the story wasn’t nearly enough to make people believe that Oliver was truly in danger. The creature was kept under wraps for the most part until the right time, but even the final reveal walked a fine line since while Larry, the creature seeking to take Oliver, did eventually get a full reveal, he wasn’t such a corny creature effect that had the ability to ruin the movie.
The gist of the story is that Oliver is a non-speaking autistic child that communicates through an app on a smartphone or tablet, and while he fully recognizes both of his parents, it is his father Marty that can get him to laugh and have a good time, while his mother, Sarah, has troubles with getting Oliver to even look her in the eye, much less respond positively to her presence. Sarah and Marty’s marriage has hit a difficult spot as Marty has moved out, which causes Oliver to shut down a bit, and has also been noticed by another that has been paying attention to Oliver through the screens he uses, as we see during a scene in which the other side of Oliver’s smartphone screen is used as the point of view.
This is fairly creepy as it gives the sense that something, or someone, is looking out at Oliver from another location, giving the movie it’s supernatural lean right away. As things progress the audience finds out that Oliver is having troubles with a few kids at school that tend to pick on and bully him, as the three that appear to have the biggest problem with Oliver toss his phone in the weeds, forcing Oliver to go without it. The story behind one of the kids, Byron, is that he and Oliver used to be friends, but at one point Oliver hurt Byron by accident, which ended the friendship their mothers had enjoyed for so long. It’s later discovered that the reason that they stopped being friends had to do with a lie that was told by Oliver’s mother, but after this Byron and Oliver reconnect, as do Sarah and Byron’s mother. Even with that in mind, however, there is still the ominous presence of Larry, who first makes Oliver aware of his presence by standing alongside him when Oliver is holding up a table that is opened to an app that recognizes faces. When the app recognizes Larry, who has already been reaching out by turning lights on and off and relaying his story via a picture book to Oliver, Byron, and Sarah, it scares Oliver so badly that he hides the tablet.
As things continue to progress, one image that’s particularly terrifying comes during one of Marty’s shifts as a late-night parking attendant, when he’s working on the fluorescent lighting in his workspace and outside, in the parking lot, the swirling pages of a newspaper plucked up by the wind adhere to a large and ungainly form that is otherwise invisible. This is obviously presumed to be Larry, and as the story continues to move along, it’s noted that Marty does finally see Larry through the camera function on his phone. Larry does wound Marty but doesn’t kill him, though the ghoulish creature, after making his intentions known to Sarah, that he wishes to take Oliver back to his world, begins to terrorize Sarah and Oliver as Sarah then throws out every phone, TV, an monitor in the house. It’s too late at this point however since Larry’s story has been told, and thanks to the screens he’s able to step into the real world and chase after Sarah and Oliver, following them all the way to the field where Byron tossed Oliver’s phone earlier in the movie.
It’s when Oliver has just about taken Larry’s hand, accepting his fate, that Sarah steps in and grabs Larry’s hand, saying that she’ll be his friend. Less than pleased with this, Larry still takes Sarah with him, leaving Oliver alone in the field. Later, we see that Mary is now more involved with his son’s care, and is working with the therapist. One night, Marty hears Oliver laughing and playing in the front room of the first floor, and through the camera app on his phone he sees Oliver playing with his mother, Sarah. Of Larry, there’s no sign.
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