M3GAN - New Release Review
Director: Gerard Johnstone
Starring: Allison Williams, Violet McGraw, Amie Donald, Jenna Davis, Ronny Chieng
Written by: Akela Cooper
Produced by: Jason Blum, Michael Clear, Couper Samuelson, James Wan
Cinematography by: Peter McCaffrey, Simon Raby
Original Score by: Anthony Willis
A robotics engineer at a toy company builds a life-like doll that begins to take on a life of its own.
The horror genre isn’t a stranger to the idea of ‘creepy dolls’. We have Fats from ‘Magic’, the clown doll from ‘Poltergeist’, Annebelle from the ‘Conjuring’ series and of course my close personal friend Chucky from ‘Child’s Play’. There’s something naturally scary about the thought of the things we play with as a child, coming to life and threatening to kill us. The newest plaything to join the horror toybox is M3GAN (Model 3 Generative Android).
After suffering the tragic loss of her parents, Cady (Violet McGraw) is sent to live with her Aunt Gemma (Allison Williams). Gemma works for the world’s most successful toy company, Funki, and is working on some breakthrough technology that will reinvent the market. M3GAN is bonded with young Cady and quickly becomes her new best friend. Unfortunately, things take a turn when M3GAN’s AI becomes a bit too self-aware.
It’s very clear that the director Gerard Johnstone (Housebound) has taken influence from films like ‘RoboCop’ and ‘Child’s Play’. When the reboot of ‘Child’s Play’ was coming out in 2019, it was reported that Universal had a screenplay that was very similar to the new Chucky story. While I can see similarities, ‘M3GAN’ takes a more satirical approach to the killer AI doll story. M3GAN is treated as an allegory for parents relying on modern technology to raise their kids these days. Obviously, with M3GAN being a killer robot, they take this allegory to the Nth degree, but the point is still extremely well made.
I was very impressed with Amie Donald’s performance as M3GAN. It's a hard balance to perform something robotic yet not cartoonish, but Donald’s captures the movements perfectly. Violet McGraw (The Haunting of Hill House) is excellent as Cady, giving a believable performance as a grieving orphan. I see a bright future for McGraw, along with her sister Madeleine McGraw, who starred in last year’s ‘The Black Phone’.
The only downside to ‘M3GAN’ is the first 10-15 minutes are quite slow. It has the high lifting of setting up the death of Cady’s parents and her adjusting to her new life. I just hoped for maybe a few more jokes or a more interesting backstory for Gemma’s work life. Working for a toy company that makes this universe's version of ‘Furby’s’ to then believe that the same company would make a $10,000 robot doll is quite the leap. Sure, it’s meant to be ridiculous, but it all comes off as a tad too convenient.
The fun of ‘M3GAN’ comes from the ridiculous nature of how M3GAN deals with Cady’s problems. Cady getting bullied? No problem, M3GAN will rip his ear lobes off. CEO of a toy company being a jerk? No problem, M3GAN has a large knife and some TikTok dancing with his name on it. It’s all incredibly fun to see the carnage unfold. M3GAN doesn’t reinvent the wheel, like I said before, it is quite similar to the 2019 remake of ‘Child’s Play’; but it knows exactly what it is and delivers a fun night out at the cinema. It’s nice to have a modern villain that you’d be happy to see more of. If they want to make more M3GAN movies and take them in a wackier direction, I'll be there on day one.
- Adam Neeson
'M3GAN' is currently playing in cinemas worldwide right now