The latest from Blumhouse is just what you’d expect
“M3gan,” the latest from horror flick powerhouse Blumhouse, plays it pretty straight. What you see is what you get, and what you’ll get is a great popcorn movie, perfect for watching with friends in a packed theater.
With a story by James Wan and his “Malignant” collaborator Akela Cooper, “M3gan” is an effective horror comedy with a very straightforward premise. After losing her parents in a car accident, Cady (Violet McGraw) is sent to live with her aunt, Gemma (Allison Williams), a roboticist who works at a toy company.
Gemma has been working on a prototype for a new toy, a life-sized AI doll companion called M3gan (Amie Donald, voiced by Jenna Davis) and she needs someone to test her. She seizes the opportunity with Cady, and Cady and M3gan quickly become inseparable.
Of course, things have to go wrong and M3gan quickly becomes overprotective, taking her main directive -- protecting Cady -- to extremes. M3gan becomes self-aware and starts to endanger Gemma and the people around them, while Cady refuses to part with the doll, having developed a deep emotional connection to M3gan following the death of her parents. Gemma must find out what went wrong and how to defeat M3gan, before the the toy’s launch party where she will be released to the public.
Despite a bit of a slow start, “M3gan” starts to come into its own about 30 minutes in, after Cady and M3gan have bonded and M3gan starts to take her job protecting Cady a little too seriously.
At some points, it seems “M3gan” is held back by its PG-13 rating. The kills, though creative, are very few and very bloodless, the result of reshoots which were necessary to dodge an R rating. In addition, the movie lacks any truly scary moments.
M3gan’s physicality is great. Realized on screen through a combination of a real actor (Amie Donald), puppetry, special effects, and animatronics, her jerky movements are both unnerving and humorous and fit the character perfectly.
There are a couple predictable jumpscares and some of M3gan’s movements can be unsettling, but ultimately “M3gan” is much more comfortably a comedy than a horror movie.
“M3gan” leans into the campiness demanded by its premise, and is at its best when at its wackiest. In one of the film’s most memorable moments, M3gan caresses Cady’s face and serenades her with David Guetta’s “Titanium” to comfort her after killing one of her bullies. Throughout, the singing and dancing robot delivers charming but ominous one liners while cutting down anybody who stands between her and her “primary user” Cady.
The film’s commentary on parenting and technology also feels uniquely modern. Gemma starts to put many of her parenting responsibilities on M3gan, leaving Cady lacking necessary human connection and stunting her both socially and emotionally. In one scene, Gemma narrates an advertisement for M3gan, explaining that M3gan will keep your kid company, while parents are able to focus on the “things that really matter,” cutting from M3gan and Cady to Gemma in the other room, smiling at her laptop. It's very reminiscent of the iPad babies of today, left to their own devices by their perpetually busy parents to explore the Internet unsupervised.
Though the film is very much predictable and the demonic doll premise has been nearly done to death, “M3gan” breathes new life into these old tropes, and it feels wonderfully familiar. M3gan may not reach the icon status of Chucky from “Child’s Play,” but she’s a great twist to the classic formula for the iPhone generation.
“M3gan” was released on Jan. 6 and is now playing in theaters, including Regal Majestic Stadium 20 & IMAX, AMC Wheaton Mall 9 and AMC Montgomery 16.
Josey Merolli. Hey, I'm Josey (she/her) and I'm entertainment editor! More »