M3GAN is a sharp, fast paced jolt of sci-fi horror with lashings of comedy, however it may not reinvent the wheel in terms of its story and plot beats.
WRITTEN BY JACK RANSOM / JANUARY 11, 2023
The latest Blumhouse low-budget horror flick that has already dominated social media. M3GAN sees Gemma (Allison Williams) suddenly become the caretaker of her orphaned 8-year-old niece, Cady (Violet McGraw), Gemma's unsure and unprepared to be a parent. Under intense pressure at work, Gemma decides to pair her M3GAN (Amie Donald/Jenna Davis) prototype with Cady in an attempt to resolve both problems-a decision that will have unimaginable consequences.
I am always skeptical when it comes to Blumhouse and their conveyor belt of low budget horror, sci-fi and thriller pictures. Some of which are modern belters (Get Out, The Invisible Man, Upgrade) plenty of which are not (Firestarter, Dashcam, Ouija). To me, M3GAN falls in the same category as last years The Black Phone: good, even great at times, but could have been better. However, there is no denying that the filmmakers have their fingers on the pulse when it comes to what will cause a social media wildfire.
Essentially what M3GAN is, is Child’s Play for the TikTok generation. Armed with biting satire, self awareness and its tongue placed firmly in cheek, allows it to overshadow its familiar narrative themes e.g. man playing God, children’s obsession and immediate reliance with technology from a young age. These points are effectively presented, however there are key plot moments that feel rushed and there is an overall lack of emotion charge to the tragedy that befell Cady.
After about the first 15-20 minutes the film kicks into gear and charges along the rest of its runtime as the titular android grows more menacing. There are some genuinely laugh out loud moments scattered throughout, largely from due to how scummy even our leads and supporting players can be, as well as with M3GAN’s increase in knowledge and devious thoughts, leading her from simple sass to belligerent sarcasm and then peak murderous mastermind.
The film certainly looks more than it cost a penny or two. M3GAN is a strikingly strange and realistic looking presence and the seamless blend (depending on the scene) of CGI, real actress and prop model is very effective. The film has a glossy, slick exterior and the limited locations and scale may have been budgetary, however it was a smart move to have the focus solely on M3GAN’s quality. The film does lack savagery when it comes to the kills (apparently the original script was a lot more violent and there is a rumoured ‘Uncut’ home release), which is a bit of a disappointment, however aiming for that younger audience was undoubtedly on the studio’s mind.
Allison Williams (Get Out) is an endearing enough lead here. Her journey from work obsessed and unprepared guardian to realising the error of her invention is predictable but solidly executed. Violet McGraw conveys Cady’s addiction to M3GAN just enough to be troubling as well as hamming it up. Both Amie Donald & Jenna Davis bring M3GAN to life impressively and Ronny Chieng’s greedy, douchey toy company boss is behind a lot of the laughs.
M3GAN is a sharp, fast paced jolt of sci-fi horror with lashings of comedy. It may not reinvent the wheel in terms of its story and plot beats, as well as also lacking any scares (minus a couple of obnoxious, yet expected jumps) and vitriol to its killings. It does however, offer a genuine icon of the sub-genre in the titular toy, of which also gets many a cool moment, a witty and frequently cackle worthy screenplay and fitting performances. Certainly better than expected.