Come Play

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Come Play Movie Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Empathy, family, and autism in scary monster story.
  • PG-13
  • 2020
  • 96 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 13 reviews

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Invites audiences to express empathy for its main character, a boy on the autism spectrum. Shows difficulties that come up in family relationships affected by autism, but also the beauty. Also deals with bullying, offers a positive (if slightly implausible) solution.

Positive Role Models

Oliver is a nuanced representation of a person on the autism spectrum; although some cruelly treat him as an outcast, he also clearly has genuine thoughts and feelings. He's a somewhat passive character in this story -- things happen to him more often than he makes things happen -- but it's easy to feel empathy for him. The parents are more troubled, flawed characters dealing with real-life stressors, but the mother sacrifices herself to save Oliver.

Violence

Children in peril, terrified. Scary stuff/visual effects. Scary monster. Jump scares. Bullies pick on the main character (one grabs his phone and throws it). Character in a car wreck (only squealing brakes heard); later, the character is shown lying in a hospital bed with his leg in a cast. Characters smash light bulbs, screens, various devices.

Sex

The married couple seems to be having relationship troubles; one sleeps in bed, the other sleeps on the couch.

Language

Infrequent language includes a few uses of "s--t," plus "hell," "boner," "loser," and "freak."

Consumerism

SpongeBob SquarePants is shown many times on screens and TV monitors, and the theme song is hummed; the character is something that Oliver enjoys and it helps calm him down. Fortnite is mentioned.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Come Play is a horror movie about Oliver (Azhy Robertson), a boy on the autism spectrum who comes upon an ebook about "Larry," a lonely monster who wants a friend. Despite a few small story flaws, it's well made and just scary enough for younger teens and up. Expect to see kids in peril, scary visual effects, a monster, a few jump scares, bullies, and characters smashing things. A car crash is suggested through the sound of squealing brakes. Language includes a few uses of "s--t" (spoken by adult characters), as well as "hell," "boner," "loser," and "freak." Fortnite is mentioned, and SpongeBob SquarePants plays a fairly large part in the story: Oliver frequently watches scenes from the cartoons, and he hums the theme song to calm himself. His parents seem to be having relationship troubles, but sex isn't an issue.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byNclady October 30, 2020

Fun!

Walking into a theater playing Beetlejuice (rated PG) and Come Play rated PG13. How does that happen!? The 90s lol.

Took my 9 and 11 yr old to see it. Great f... Continue reading
Parent of a 14 and 14-year-old Written byReda R. July 2, 2021

My favorite scary movie for teens - with a great protagonist!

This movie is soooo scary - without gore and excessive violence; my twin teenagers describe it as “Stranger Things meets A Quiet Place” because of the similarit... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byPombay July 11, 2021

Awesome movie

If you like stranger things you will love this. If you've watched a quiet place then you will also love this amazing film no swear words perfect. I think k... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byWolfut1234 June 19, 2021

Great and just the right amount of scary

It is a great thriller I wouldn't call it scary tho but it's a great movie it says one cuss word and has a few scary sights but definitely recommend 1...

What's the story?

In COME PLAY, Oliver (Azhy Robertson) is a boy on the autism spectrum who loves SpongeBob SquarePants. Oliver doesn't speak, instead communicating with his mother (Gillian Jacobs) and father (John Gallagher Jr.) via an app on his cell phone. One day a mysterious ebook, Misunderstood Monster, shows up on his device. It tells the story of "Larry," a monster who wants a friend and will "climb through a window" to get one. During a sleepover with three other boys -- a hopeful attempt to get Oliver to make some friends -- Larry manifests himself. From then on, it's only a matter of time until Larry comes for Oliver. Can his parents protect him?

Is it any good?

Despite small hiccups in plot and character, this teen-friendly horror movie is a well-made production from top to bottom, and it effectively encourages strong empathy for its central characters. Written and directed by Jacob Chase, who adapted his own five-minute short film to feature length, Come Play resembles The Babadook in many ways, but it doesn't quite reach that film's league. It sometimes clouds the rules behind Larry; in one scene, Oliver smashes the lights in his room and causes Larry to fizzle out, even though Larry seems to have the power to douse the lights himself when he arrives. It also rushes friendships between Oliver and three other boys who start out by bullying him. But the dynamic between the family of three makes up for these things.

Young Robertson is remarkable as Oliver, while Jacobs' Sarah spends the most time with him and is tested by the impact of his autism. Her impatience leads to rash decisions, which drives the story. Meanwhile, Gallagher's Marty frequently works -- a night shift in a little booth in the center of a parking lot, a nice touch -- and gets to be the "fun" one at home. Come Play is bold enough to illustrate the strain in the family members' relationships, humanizing them. And it has a strong, vivid look that recalls the suburban habitats of E.T. and Poltergeist (Steven Spielberg's Amblin was one of the production companies). It also boasts tight, precise editing by Gregory Plotkin (Get Out), a chilling score by Roque Banos (Evil Dead), and a smart sound design, with Larry's slow, clicking footsteps an especially effective touch.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Come Play's violence. Does the fact that children are in peril make the violence seem stronger?

  • How is bullying depicted? How does Oliver's mother try to solve the problem? What other ways are there to handle bullies?

  • What is the "autism spectrum"? Do you think this movie depicts life on the spectrum realistically? 

  • What's the appeal of scary movies? Why do people sometimes like to be scared?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love scares

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate