Movie Review: M3GAN (2022)

Directed by Gerard Johnston with a story from Akela Cooper and James Wan, M3GAN is a 2022 horror movie. Following the death of her parents, Cady (Violet McGraw) goes to live with her aunt Gemma (Alison Williams), a robotocist at a toy company, Funki. In an attempt to boost Cady’s spirits, Gemma gives her M3GAN (acted by Amie Donald, voiced by Jenna Davis), an artificially intelligent doll the size of a human pre-teen, who has the explicit instruction of protecting Cady’s interests… at all costs.

+ Williams, McGraw and Donald were great as the main trio of Gemma, Cady and M3GAN, respectively. I have enjoyed Williams in particular in Get Out and A Series of Unfortunate Events now, and I would be willing to add her to my list of ‘Yeah, I’ll watch it just for her’ actors. I’m not as familiar with McGraw or Donald, the latter of who has only one thing listed on Wikipedia, but their chemistry was good. It’s hard to rate Donald too strongly overall, as she was essentially just motion capture, of sorts
+ the plot is incredibly standard stuff (see more below), but that doesn’t necessarily mean bad. You’ll be able to predict every main story beat well before it happens, and even the specifics felt somewhat cliched. Still, who doesn’t love a bit of murder from something that shouldn’t be able to commit said bit of murder? It’s a tried and true story for a reason

– the real issue for this horror movie is that it is never scary, nor gory enough to warrant that ‘oh damn, look at that’ reaction. There are clear sci-fi undertones (or simply ‘tones’, as M3GAN’s programming is literally the source code of the movie) but I just never quite got into it as any genre in particular
– I cringed so hard I almost pulled a muscle every time M3GAN started singing or dancing, and I don’t know if that was the plan or not. I see some outlets calling this a horror/black comedy, and I don’t think I’d go that far. This felt like an attempt at straight horror movie, to me, unless ‘cringe horror’ is a thing

> are we all just pretending this entire plot isn’t Chucky for zoomers? Or The Simpsons‘ Evil Kristy Doll from 1992’s “Treehouse of Horror III”, itself based on a 1963 Twilight Zone episode? James Wan even previously did Annabelle, which was a (albeit supernatural not science-based) killer doll!
> some of M3GAN’s movements reminded me a lot of how characters would act with the use of STEM in one of my favourite movies, Upgrade, directed by Leigh Whannell, a close friend of James Wan. I don’t think that’s a coincidence

Should you see this film: This was perfectly fine, and I certainly don’t regret spending my time watching, but I’m not quite sure what all the fuss was about. This won’t end up on any worst of the year’ lists, but I also can’t possibly imagine it is going to be on anybody’s top 10 list either, even specifically if that list was only of James Wan movies.


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