A family-friendly horror film that’s scary

All Oliver wanted was a friend, and in Larry, he’s about to get one that he’ll never forget.

Writer/director Jacob Chase’s “Come Play,” a feature version of his popular 2017 short film “Larry,” is a masterful combination of expert sound design and skilled practical effects. It’s pretty darned scary too.

“Come Play” tells the story of a lonely boy named Oliver (played by Azhy Robertson), who has a hard time making friends. Oliver is on the autism spectrum and only communicates through his cell phone. Apps enable him to answer simple questions, but the awkwardness of this method of speech naturally separates him from his peers.

One night, a strange monster named Larry visits Oliver. By using Oliver’s cell phone to introduce himself, Larry tells his ghostly tale through a curious ebook. But when Oliver reads the mysterious tome, Larry suddenly becomes more and more real. Understandably frightened, Oliver stops reading in hopes that Larry will leave him alone.

The ebook uniquely targets Oliver’s condition, which makes it hard to resist. Titled “Misunderstood Monsters,” it coaxes Oliver to become Larry’s friend because no one else will accept the misshapen creature. When some bullies throw Oliver’s cell phone away, he’s no longer able to warn those around him that a monster is in their midst. And, to Oliver’s dismay, the manipulative Larry can travel through most any gadget with a screen.

A chilling story written around our device-dependent times, “Come Play” works primarily because of the well-crafted setup. The opening sequence makes impressive use of sound effects—every bump and knock in Oliver’s room and throughout the house sets viewer nerves on end. And the eventual reveal of the predatory Larry is particularly remarkable—he’s a being that’s impossible to ignore.

Read the rest of Jonathan’s review online and in print in the Times-Herald: