That’s pronounced “m-three-gan.”
M3GAN is hard to define. Is it a slasher film? I’d say no. A horror movie? Not really. It’s a little unnerving but I wouldn’t say it spends a whole lot of time trying to spoop the audience. Maybe it’s because I’ve spoiled myself on films like The Wolf House that are full on assaults on the viewer’s sanity as well as various Taiwanese horror films and Korean flicks that your standard western horror just doesn’t feel like a horror movie anymore. Like an action film with some creepies.
Directed by Flinstone character Gerard Johnstone, the name behind the 2014 film Housebound. M3GAN stars Allison Williams as Gemma, a woman who makes smart toys for a living. When her sister is killed in a car accident, Gemma finds herself the unwilling caregiver of Cady (Violet McGraw). To placate Cady and also use her as a test subject, Gemma introduces her to M3GAN (Amie Donald), an android capable of learning in order to protect, love, and nurture the child she is paired with.
So basically it’s like the Child’s Play reboot but with women. Gemma makes the mistake of not programming M3GAN with any sort of protocols about safety or not becoming a murderous android, so you kinda know what’s going to happen before the movie even kicks off if you are aware that this is an android movie and also a horror-ish slasher-ish premise. If you like movies like the original Halloween with its rather low body count (he killed five people) you won’t be disappointed.
I’d like to give kudos to whoever was responsible for casting in this film. Violet McGraw plays a very convincing role of a child who watched both of her parents die, and portrays the rather terrifying idea of a child becoming emotionally dependent on a toy despite the obvious long term damage of boxing up her emotions over her loss. M3GAN meanwhile is played by Amie Donald who with no surprise is a dancer in real life. Amie Donald moves in a way that I can only describe as deeply unsettling, and it’s a benefit to the film that they didn’t use CG or fancy rigging to get the creepier parts down. It’s the combination of puppeteering and real human movement that make it work.
Unfortunately that’s where the big positives about the film end. The irony of the film is that its plot is about a company overlooking the obvious in order to create a marketable product, and by keeping the film at a PG-13 rating and meme’ing it up to children and manchildren on social media up to release the final product is just that. Watered down for a mainstream audience. And I watched the unrated version which doesn’t have a lot of gore. It does feel like Child’s Play built for tweens, and while technically there is some blood and gore it’s so muddled that I can hardly consider it a slasher film. What do I know, I watched Dawn of the Dead when I was eleven.
Allison Williams’ performance as Gemma is like a silent wet fart in a paper lunch bag, it’s so forgettable. Most of the actors in this movie are completely forgettable and the plot is as surface level as it gets with the wink and nod to the audience that artificial intelligence could be bad as if the concept hasn’t been done a million times before. It’s really less a horror movie and more a film about accepting that technology isn’t a band-aid to put on your real world grief, and there’s also a killer robot. It reminds me of real world horrors like the fact that companies want to build AI algorithms to impersonate your dead loved ones to tell you they love you and Subway is having a BOGO sale on footlong cold cuts this weekend, and the obvious mental illness that could impart on the public if it becomes a commercial product.
As a movie, it is chock full of sentimental moments and emotional scenes that are sure to grip the hearts of audiences. It’s honestly not a bad time.
M3GAN is masterfully built, both in its structure and its marketing. It’s a film that criticizes emotional dependence on technology while simultaneously taking direct advantage of the population’s obsession with TikTok to get its marketing. It’s a reminder that nothing really goes viral without some big money interest behind the scenes pulling the strings. It’s focus built for dumb-ass articles written by terminally online bloggers at rags like GQ not realizing they’re part of the depressing world the movie is making fun of.