'M3GAN' review: Creepy doll serves thrills and chills
Courtesy of Universal
Step aside Chucky, Annabelle and Slappy (where are my “Goosebumps” kids at?), there’s a new girl in town and her name’s M3GAN (short for “Model 3 Generative Android”) and the robot is not only serving up viral dance moves, she could also slice your head off. Another low-budget chiller from the folks at Blumhouse, “M3GAN” delivers plenty of meme worthy moments and will more than likely gain a second life during October when everyone and their Aunt molds their costume after the sophisticated lifelike robot. The movie itself is pure camp, not meant to be taken seriously, which should garner howls of laughter among moviegoers. “M3GAN” is a fierce creation, all but tailored made for the TikTok generation and when she’s not acting creepy or murderous, you almost want to dish the tea with her. Yas Queen!
As all these films explain before things go horribly wrong, M3GAN was created with good intentions and eventual global domination as a hyper-realistic doll with spontaneous capabilities that make her seem like a genuine human companion. She’s programmed to read people while sensing their fear, anxiety, trust, and also educate on the difference between right and wrong. Her creator, Gemma (Allison Williams, “Get Out”) put M3GAN’s development into overdrive after gaining custody of her niece, Cady (Violet McGraw - solid) following an accident that claimed her parents' lives, in the hopes the robot could provide some relief.
And for a brief moment, M3GAN does: offering therapeutic advice and taking Cady’s mind off the world around her. That is until a glitch in the system (isn’t there always?) renders M3GAN into a self-absorbing Piranha eager to protect Cady (of whom she’s “paired” with) at any and all cost. If that means breaking legs, brutal honesty, snuffing out bullies, and obliterating the nosy neighbor and her dog with chemicals, so be it. Jenna Davis brings M3GAN’s voice to life in stunning fashion, offering the perfect amount of shade when judging Gemma’s parenting capabilities.
Sure, we already knew M3GAN was a special doll (everyone has seen the dance moves in the marketing) but writer Akela Cooper and “Annabelle” creator James Wan tastefully expand beyond the obvious artificial intelligence criticisms: in fact, the movie has something to say about corporate consumerism and the youth’s obsession with technology and endless screentime.
It’s spot on commentary not just about children’s tech dependence, but parents too. The concept of a robot that could entertain, educate, and nurture your kid is something I fear might not be far away. Amid today’s technological advances, could there be a M3GAN in the near future? Perhaps, but for now, we’ll stick with the cinematic version, which offers various homages to movies “The Terminator,” and, of course, “Child’s Play.” Director Gerald Johnston employs various troupes from these films, but it's his understanding of this movie's tone (he knows exactly where to steer this absurd ship), that helps set it apart from the pack, and although the movie isn’t necessarily scary (the young actor Amie Donald who plays M3GAN walks, talks, and looks less menacing than her Chucky cohort), it’s never boring. And how could it be with queen bee M3GAN in the driver's seat? Get it girl!
M3GAN is now playing in theaters.