M3GAN is far from the first killer doll movie to catch our attention, but it might be the funniest. It’s campy and confident from the first scene, and you get the sense that the filmmakers get the joke. M3GAN is a horror film that’s a little lacking in actual horror, but what it lacks in horror it makes up for by fully engaging in the absurdity and creepiness of its own premise.
January 6, 2023
After unexpectedly becoming her 8-year-old niece’s guardian, a roboticist introduces her to M3GAN, a lifelike, AI-controlled doll she created and whose programming evolves in unexpected — and deadly — ways. With strong performances from Allison Williams and Violet McGraw, ‘M3GAN’ fully embraces campiness.
Already a viral sensation on TikTok thanks to some effective trailers that turned M3GAN into a meme queen, M3GAN takes its sweet time for M3GAN (which stands for “Model 3 Generative Android”) to make its grand entrance. M3GAN (played by Amie Donald, while Jenna Davis provides the voice) is the brainchild of Gemma (Allison Williams), a career-oriented roboticist who works at a toy company. And initially, their boss David (Ronny Chieng) isn’t interested in the project because he’d rather focus on making cheaper versions of toys they’re already making to get an edge in a competitive field, rather than an incredible one expensive prototype to work this might not even work.
But it’s not until Gemma suddenly becomes the guardian of her 8-year-old niece Cady (Violet McGraw) following the death of her parents that Gemma – who cares for Cady but is unable to care for a child – leads the overwhelming grief she is busy perfecting the programming of M3GAN. Together with Cady, M3GAN can become her best friend and quasi-parent at the same time, and the more time Cady spends with M3GAN, the more M3GAN learns with her AI abilities.
On paper, M3GAN solves all of Gemma’s problems: Cady keeps getting better and M3GAN impresses her bosses so much that her company wants to release the toy immediately. M3GAN can now urge Cady to flush the toilet and put her glass on a coaster and doesn’t seem to tire of reminding her to do so. She can read multiple emotions coming off a person’s face. She can even act as an effective grief counselor to get an entire room crying.
In reality, the implementation of what M3GAN can do is much messier, deadlier, and hilarious. Everything M3GAN says is both annoying and amusing at the same time, and even if M3GAN isn’t aware of this until the character starts pounding to death, M3GAN the movie definitely is. Screenwriter Akela Cooper (Malignant) and producer James Wan are behind it M3GAN (they are credited with the story idea while Cooper wrote the script) and it absolutely shows the people behind it Malignant also did this twisted and satisfying roller coaster ride. (Malignant Rules, so this is a compliment.) The dialogue is just confident enough to work.
When M3GAN plays it straight, an unexpected pop hit becomes creepy, and the more nefarious M3GAN’s actions become as she performs her main goal – protecting Cady from harm – even the innocuous actions get that extra layer. The fear doesn’t come from what you see, but from imagining what could have happened off-screen, and there are many external and internal threats to Cady’s happiness.
And when we get to M3GAN’s big dance number – featuring a needle drop that’s vastly different from what we’ve seen in trailers and proving almost any song will work – it’s fully embraced the more absurd aspects of the killer doll movie supported by the leadership of Gerard Johnstone. If any, M3GAN probably could have pushed things further.
But among all of M3GAN’s antics, there are familiar elements from other recent horror films: brooding over grief through the lens of someone who can’t handle what’s thrown at her in the wake of it (Gemma), and someone who’s settling into something clutching at getting it done (Cady). Thanks to movies like Get out and The perfectionWilliams effortlessly balances these tones.
Sure, you can figure out the trajectory of M3GAN’s bow from the start, or where the twists and turns will lead. But that doesn’t lessen the hilarity of watching what follows, the creative kills, or the meme-worthy moments. but M3GAN is a hoot from start to finish and ensures that 2023 starts with a bang.
M3GAN Premieres in theaters January 6, 2023.
*Initial publication: January 6, 2023 at 6:00 am CST
Michelle Jaworski is a staff writer and television/film critic at the Daily Dot. Covering entertainment, geek culture and pop culture, she has covered everything from the Sundance Film Festival, NYFF and Tribeca to New York Comic Con and Con of Thrones. She lives in Brooklyn.
https://www.dailydot.com/unclick/m3gan-review/ “M3GAN” is a hilarious and confident entry into the Killer Doll film