COME PLAY*CUT TO THE CHASE*
NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Jeremy
The film starts with a young autistic child named Oliver (Azhy Robertson) watching his favorite show, “SpongeBob SquarePants.” Through his phone, a mysterious entity is watching. When Oliver isn’t looking, his phone opens a story called “Misunderstood Monsters”, telling the tale of a creature named Larry who wants to be friends with whoever hears his story. Oliver senses a disturbing presence in the room when he tries to close his door. He hides under the covers and moans in panic until he sees that it is just his mother Sarah (Gillian Jacobs) trying to comfort him.
Oliver lives with Sarah and father Marty (John Gallagher, Jr). He communicates using an app on his phone since he is non-verbal. At school, Oliver has an aide, and another boy, Byron (Winslow Fegley), makes a comment about him getting special treatment for being allowed to use his phone. After school, another boy named Mateo (Jayden Marine) asks Oliver if he wants to hang out by the field. Turns out this was just a prank orchestrated by Byron, Mateo, and a third boy, Zach (Gavin MacIver-Wright). They make fun of Oliver’s moaning sounds, calling him “Moaner Boner”, and they throw his phone away and push him to the ground before leaving. Oliver is left frantically looking for his phone until Sarah later finds him.
Marty and Sarah take Oliver to a doctor that tries to help him communicate. Sarah personally expresses to Marty that she feels that Oliver hates her since he gets along better with Marty and cannot even look Sarah in the eyes. Marty later goes to his job as a parking garage attendant, when a figure outside appears to stand in the wind, with papers covering its invisible form. He brings back an iPad for Oliver to communicate with, but he is creeped out when the communication app starts speaking back to him, addressing itself as Larry and saying it wants to be his friend. Oliver throws the tablet into the closet.
Sarah tries to help Oliver make new friends by having Byron’s mom Jen (Rachel Wilson) bring him, Mateo, and Zach over for a sleepover. Although the three boys aren’t eager, they go along. When they try to sleep, they are bothered by Oliver moaning. They notice him looking in the closet, and Mateo suggests he has a candy stash in there. Byron goes to open it, and Oliver grabs the iPad. Byron takes it from him and finds the Misunderstood Monsters story pop up. He starts reading the story of Larry, and the lights around the house start to flicker before all the bulbs start popping. Through the tablet, they appear to see Larry’s image lurking in the shadows. When Byron goes to prove that there is nothing there, Larry pushes the table against Byron, pinning him to the wall. Marty and Sarah find the boys screaming in terror. When their parents go get them, Zach says it was Oliver who hurt Byron and he calls him a freak.
The next day at school, Byron is absent. Meanwhile, Sarah is trying to replace the bulbs in the house, when her phone and tablet open up Larry’s story. Soon, the bulbs appear to have been changed by themselves when Sarah isn’t looking. She starts to get freaked out. She explains to Marty what she saw, and although he is skeptical at first, Marty soon sees that Larry is real after having an encounter with his presence. They see that his main goal is to find a friend, so they try to get Oliver and Byron to be friends again, which is hard because Sarah and Jen already had a big fight over their sons before the sleepover even happened.
Oliver is taken to Byron’s house, where Jen says that the boy hasn’t spoken or slept for days. Byron finally speaks and tells the adults that Oliver didn’t hurt him, but that it was Larry. He explains how he felt Larry grabbing onto him and how terrified he was.
Oliver continues to be bothered by Larry, with the monster even trying to give him a kitchen sponge as a gift (because of SpongeBob). Byron later approaches Oliver at school and sincerely asks why they stopped being friends. There was an incident where Oliver hit Byron, and while their mothers argued over it, Byron says that he heard a message from Sarah that said Oliver told her she didn’t want to be friends with Byron anymore. Oliver uses the app to say that it’s a lie.
At home, Marty and Sarah discuss what to do on how to keep Oliver safe from Larry. Oliver draws two pictures, one of himself, and another of Larry. He holds one in front of the other and up to the light to indicate to his parents that Larry is still stuck in his own world and uses lights as a means to try and cross over.
At the parking garage, Marty is haunted by Larry when his story pops up and suggests that anybody who stands in Larry’s way will meet their end. Marty sees through his phone that Larry is stalking him around the booth, so he makes a run for it and drives away as Larry starts to blow out the electricity around the area. Just when Marty thinks he is safe, he hears a thumping around the car, and he soon sees through the phone that Larry is sitting right next to him.
Sarah gets a call and learns that Marty is in the hospital unconscious after crashing his car. She realizes Larry was behind it, and the TV starts flickering with random clips that Larry uses to send a message: “Finish the story”. When Sarah refuses, the TV plays the ending of the story, being that Larry will not stop until he has his friend, and once you take his hand, there is no turning back, and an image is shown of Larry pulling a child into his world. Sarah throws out every electronic device, but all of them together allow Larry to emerge and stalk her and Oliver around the house. When Oliver freaks out, Sarah blurts out that she wants him to be normal, but she quickly apologizes. They hide under Oliver’s bed, where he writes a message to Sarah saying that she lied about him not wanting to be friends with Byron after the incident because she was doing it to protect herself. Oliver then gets an idea and starts to shout “field” repeatedly, causing Larry to find them, but Sarah gets Oliver and they flee the house.
Oliver and Sarah run into the field, where she realizes that Oliver picked that spot because there’s no electricity there, so Larry can’t reach them. Unfortunately, Oliver’s phone happens to turn up at the worst possible moment, and Larry emerges from it to chase Oliver and Sarah. He corners Oliver in the woods and holds his hand out to take Oliver away, but Sarah steps in and tells Larry she will be his friend so that Oliver will not have to go. Sarah tells Oliver she loves him, and he finally looks her in the eyes. Sarah is overjoyed for a brief moment until Larry pulls her with him into his world.
Marty starts to recover, and he continues taking Oliver to his doctor, where he is making improvements in writing and speech. Sarah is officially believed to have gone missing, since Marty cannot tell the truth.
Oliver goes back to school where he is now friends with Byron again, and they get Mateo to join them in making a vow to be friends forever so Larry will never return. Later that night, Oliver sees lights flickering in his room, and he goes downstairs. Marty hears Oliver laughing and then finds him spinning around like he is holding someone’s hands. Then he is lifted into the air in a circle. Marty frantically gets his phone out, thinking it’s Larry, but when he looks through the lens, he sees that it is Sarah, finally playing with Oliver. This moves Marty to tears, and Sarah can be heard telling Oliver that she will protec
A non-verbal autistic boy named Oliver becomes haunted by a monster called Larry that wants a friend. Oliver has no friends because of his condition, and his mother Sarah has a hard time with her son getting close to her.
Larry soon attacks Oliver's classmate Byron before making his presence known to Sarah and Oliver's father Marty. After Larry puts Marty in the hospital, Oliver and Sarah try to get rid of all electronics so that Larry will not use them to cross over into their world. It doesn't work, and Larry goes after Oliver. When they realize that Larry will only go away when he has a friend, Sarah sacrifices herself by taking Larry's hand and agreeing to go with him into his world. She says goodbye to Oliver after telling him she loves him.
Oliver becomes friends with Byron and other boys while Marty recovers. Larry also appears to let Sarah maintain contact with Oliver, as Marty sees that she is playing with him.