There is a fine line between horror and humor, and Gerard Johnstone’s M3GAN dances back and forth across that line with reckless abandon. If you saw 2021’s Malignant you’re well accustomed to the wild ride the film takes audiences on as it’s from the same screenwriter, Akela Cooper. M3GAN won’t be winning any awards, but it is some of the most fun you’ll have at the theater. It’s one friendship I don’t want to see end anytime soon.
Following the tragic death of both her parents in a car accident, Cady (Violet McGraw) is forced to live with her distant aunt Gemma (Allison Williams) who is more comfortable around her technology and robots than she is around kids, even if they’re family. Both Gemma and Cady struggle to adjust to their new lifestyle together, and so Gemma, being the tech savvy toy inventor that she is, creates an ultra-realistic robot called M3GAN who can not only be Cady’s best friend but also teach and help her with everyday life. But when M3GAN’s objective to protect Cady is taken to the extreme and bad things start happening to those around Cady, Gemma starts to wonder if her latest invention has evolved beyond anything anyone could have imagined.
First up is the horror. M3GAN, short for Model 3 Generative Android, herself is terrifyingly creepy as a doll who was pulled from the darkest depths of the uncanny valley. What makes her so scary is how she transitions back and forth between something robotic and something human. Just watch any of the trailers and you’ll see what I’m talking about. M3GAN will move robotically at times and appear human-like but still very much an android. Then she’ll breakout in dance or run on all fours through the woods and send shivers down your spine. I can’t help but think back to people wearing those hyper-realistic masks of babies and celebrities. You know their fake but their realistic nature paired with a normal human body must short-circuit something in the brain because the resulting figure is what nightmares are made from. M3GAN uses this to its advantage. At times she appears human; other times she’s purely robotic. There is always an unsettling nature surrounding her though. The uncanny valley is the film’s biggest asset.
Like Malignant, M3GAN pushes its ideas to an extreme level that is a little less terrifying than it is just shocking. It doesn’t take itself seriously and can thus get away with being cheesy or absurd. Sure, it’s weird when M3GAN randomly bursts into singing her own rendition of David Guetta’s “Titanium,” but it’s delightfully bizarre. Nothing truly feels off limits. To be honest, there are moments where I felt the film could have pushed the boundaries ever further into absurdity. MEGAN does have a simple core idea revolving around family and relationships with its story. That, in itself, is nothing notable, and the film tends to find a lull or two when trying to develop around that. That’s not what sets M3GAN apart from other horror films, and it’s at its weakest when its trying to cater to that audience rather than embrace its own madness.
Thankfully M3GAN is self-aware for the most part and delivers a wildly fun and jaw-dropping horror comedy combo that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’ll shock, scare, and put a smile on your face. Move over Chucky, there’s a new and creepier toy doll in town. I can’t wait to see the next iteration with (hopefully) MEG4N!
If you saw 2021’s Malignant you’re well accustomed to the wild ride the film takes audiences on as it’s from the same screenwriter, Akela Cooper. M3GAN won’t be winning any awards, but it is some of the most fun you’ll have at the theater. It’s one friendship I don’t want to see end anytime soon.