Director: Gerard Johnstone
Writer: Akela Cooper
Starring: Allison Williams, Jenna Davis, Amie Donald, and Violet McGraw
M3gan is a great comedy horror film, directed by Gerard Johnstone (Housebound). The script was written by Akela Cooper, and the story was from Cooper and James Wan (both had also worked together previously on the brilliant Malignant from 2021). The film revolves around M3gan (Amie Donald and voiced by Jenna Davis), a doll that Gemma (Allison Williams) creates to give her niece, Cady (Violet McGraw), after her parents are killed in a car accident. M3gan’s development is rushed, and with other deadlines closing in at work, an unfinished M3gan is put forward. All of that causes M3gan to become fully sentient and she’ll stop at nothing to keep Cady happy.
The M3gan doll is genuinely really creepy. It’s easy to see why people would be amazed with her at first, but you definitely wouldn’t want one in your house for long. She adapts really quickly to her surroundings and is always listening to what’s going on around. She’s incredibly protective of Cady, taking her mission to keep her safe to the extreme. She pops up all over the place, making Gemma aware that she doesn’t completely trust her. It’s unnerving, and that’s before you get to her killing people.
Mixed in with the horror is a good sense of humour. There are some silly moments, especially in the adverts at the beginning of the film, and some funny satirical moments around how dependent people are on their phones, and technology in general. It’s all too plausible that a robot designed to be a toy, could eventually essentially replace parents. Some of the funniest moments come from when the side-characters are on screen. There’s a detective who starts to connect some dots, that shows no empathy to a dead child. Gemma’s neighbour, Celia, played by Lori Dungey is also funny in the few scenes that she’s in.
On top of the comedy there’s also some brief moments that deal with grief as Cady confides in M3gan about how she’s feeling about the loss of her parents, in a scene that’s both chilling in how advance M3gan has become in such a short time, as well as a great reflection on Cady’s life and why she’s so quick to connect with M3gan. It’s a great scene
The only real drawback on the film is when it gets to the kill scenes, there’s not a lot shown. There are a few grizzly bits of gore, with a really graphic moment involving an ear, but the camera always pans away or cuts before you see that much. Once that pattern sets in, there’s not a lot of tension in the actual deaths, since you know you’re not going to see it. It’s a shame that the film is so tame in its violence because it really stops M3gan from being as scary and tense as possible. Most of the terror comes from the jump scares, most of which involve the next-door neighbour’s dog, and that’s a shame.
Even so, M3gan is a really fun film. It blends horror and comedy together really nicely, and it’s definitely funnier than it is scary. The character of M3gan is already becoming iconic and that will only grow in time with the inevitable sequels. The film is funny, and just an all-round good time. Definitely a good start to 2023.
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