‘M3GAN’ movie review: A creepy, gory, and delightfully funny feature

While posing deeply philosophical questions about what it is to be human and the way technology is running our lives, ‘M3GAN’ is also delightfully funny, dispensing giggles and gore in equal measure

Updated - January 16, 2023 04:21 pm IST

Published - January 16, 2023 04:17 pm IST

A still from ‘M3GAN’

A still from ‘M3GAN’ | Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

Apart from giving that other killer doll, Annabelle, her own franchise, The Conjuring and Saw director James Wan has also co-written and co-produced this science-fiction-horror hybrid, M3GAN, which features a robot doll that becomes self-aware and does all sorts of nasty things.

M3GAN (English)
Director: Gerard Johnstone
Cast: Allison Williams, Jenna Davis, Violet McGraw
Runtime: 102 minutes
Storyline: A robot doll begins by helping a grieving girl before turning sinister

Directed by Gerard Johnstone, M3GAN tells of a young girl, Cady (Violet McGraw), who loses her parents in a car accident and goes to stay with her workaholic aunt, Gemma (Allison Williams). If you are thinking M3GAN will play out like another of those movies where out of the mouth of babes comes sage advice for the distracted adult, you might be half right.

Gemma is a roboticist working for a toy company in Seattle. She develops a virtual pet which is all the rage and flying off the shelves. The problem with success, however, is cheap rip-offs, which is what Gemma’s boss, David (Ronny Chieng), cribs about.

Gemma shows David what she is currently working on — Model 3 Generative Android (M3GAN), a scarily lifelike doll that is loaded with an evolving learning curve. M3GAN malfunctions (can you hear claxons?) and David shuts down the project.

With a grieving Cady at home and David sitting on her head to come up with a new product, Gemma fast-tracks M3GAN. The doll, at first, seems like an answer to all Gemma’s problems as Cady bonds with her and David is convinced of the project’s success after seeing the android interact with Cady.

However, there are things M3GAN does that cause disquiet. When neighbour Celia’s (Lori Dungey) dog attacks Cady, the dog disappears. When Celia confronts Gemma about the disappearance, she vanishes too. When a bully meets with an accident, Gemma is even more concerned about M3GAN’s independent thought processes.

Cady’s therapist Lydia (Amy Usherwood) feels her (Cady’s) attachment to the robot is unhealthy, while Gemma’s colleagues Tess (Jen Van Epps) and Cole (Brian Jordan Alvarez) feel that M3GAN’s programming to be a child’s primary caretaker is skewed.

Everything comes to a head at the big launch party with samurai swords, bodies in the elevator, and a climactic battle between a giant, motion capture robot (that Gemma built as a student) and the newer, sleeker M3GAN, whose coldly analytical thought processes, though theoretically correct, unleashes bloody mayhem.

While posing deeply philosophical questions about what it is to be human, independent thought, caregiving, threat response, death, and the way technology is running our lives, M3GAN is also delightfully funny, dispensing giggles and gore in equal measure.

Amie Donald makes for a creepy M3GAN with Jenna Davis giving the voice. The low body count is probably due to the cuts to make the PG-13 rating, but there is the promise of the original cut. There also might be a sequel with a crossover to that other murderous plaything, Chucky.

And in case you are wondering, like me, why M3GAN runs on all fours like a demented spider, it is because robot scientists are yet to crack bipedal movement. And you thought all the brains in horror movies were splattered across walls... tsk tsk.

M3GAN is currently running in theatres

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