Dir. Gerard Johnstone (2022) After losing her parents, a young girl is taken in by her aunt, who is a robotics engineer at a toy company. She’s just, like, really bad at her job.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
It doesn’t get a whole lot more popcorn-movie-fun than M3GAN, the new Blumhouse film that borrow more than a little from the Child’s Play franchise and manages to make millennials even more terrifying than they already are. Violet McGraw (The Haunting of Hill House) plays Cady, a young girl whose parents have both died in an unfortunate car accident. She is adopted by her aunt Gemma (Allison Williams, Get Out), who is a robotics engineer at a toy company and is working on a secret project that is going to revolutionize the industry. Two guesses as to what she’s working on. When she presents her newest project to Cady, it begins to take on a life of its own to supplant Gemma as Cady’s guardian, stopping at nothing to ensure that she’s never hurt again.
Man, I fucking loved this movie. M3GAN hits that teen horror sweet spot of ensuring there’s enough gore to make you wince in your seat and some great jump scares that are never really unexpected. There’s nothing particularly revolutionary within, as you can pretty well predict nearly every event in the film within 20 minutes of the opening car crash, but you’re not really here to be surprised by the plot. You’re here to see M3GAN wreak some havoc, and wreak havoc she most certainly does in some of the creepiest ways imaginable. By the bloodsoaked finale, pretty much everyone has to face the consequences of technological advancements and the body count rises much higher than I expected going in. McGraw does a phenomenal job as Cady, delivering a performance that is emotional and incredibly strong for an actress as young as she is. She’s going to be a fantastic actress for a long time. Williams’ character is one of the worst parents in cinematic history, for most of the movie making the audience kinda glad that M3GAN is around to watch out for Cady. Williams does a great job of showing just how awful her situation would be in reality, taking care of a child when your life is wholly set up to live on your own and do your own thing. Gemma has no baseline for even knowing how to care for a child, and she certainly shows it by her actions, which are self-centered and ridiculous at times. Gemma as a character is pretty hateable, and it’s not a good look when a homicidal robot doll is outperforming in the parenting department.
There are a few odd choices, especially near the end of the film. Unlike in Child’s Play, where the doll was possessed after a voodoo ritual and was, in reality, a serial killer from the start, M3GAN was programmed to protect Cady from any harm, physical or emotional. By the end of the film, she’s just a murderous robot on a rampage, seeming to very much care more for her own wellbeing than that of her young ward. While it wouldn’t have been particularly fitting with the style of the film to have M3GAN shut herself down when realizing that her actions were endangering Cady, it would’ve perhaps made a bit more sense from a narrative perspective. Then again, the fans didn’t fill the seats to watch a slightly-more-bloody Iron Giant.
With artificial intelligence on the rise and becoming more and more terrifying, M3GAN is perhaps a portent of what we can expect from our children’s toys in the future. While there are certainly some great benefits to this kind of technology, I believe James Cameron delivered at least two movies that show exactly how bad things can get if we put this type of trust in the autonomy of machines. Having just reviewed a documentary performed entirely by artificial intelligence (the UFO one links here), it’s truly disturbing how real we’ve allowed these things to behave. It’s horrifying to imagine, with the speed at which technology adapts and develops, what the next few years have in store for us and our new cybernetic overlords. Who this movie is for: Slasher fans, Killer doll lovers, Alexa users Bottom line: I absolutely loved this one, and I think you will too. It’s a delightfully gory slasher with some truly terrifying implications, especially given the current state of technology and its exponential growth. It’s a Blumhouse movie through and through, which may be a bit more produced than some horror fans would like to see, but it’s genuinely creepy, exceptionally well-done, and with some fantastic performances to boot. Highly recommend checking this one out at your earliest convenience