M3GAN (2022)

Director: Gerard Johnstone
Writer: Akela Cooper, James Wan
Cast: Allison Williams, Violet McGraw, Ronny Chieng, Amie Donald, Jenna Davis, Brian Jordan Alvarez, Jen Van Epps, Stephane Garneau-Monten, Lori Dungey
Seen on: 17.1.2023

Content Note: animal death

Gemma (Allison Williams) is a toy programmer/robotics engineer, always trying to find new ways for toys to interact with children. But when her own niece Cady (Violet McGraw) comes to live with her after her parents died in a car accident, Gemma doesn’t really know how to deal with Cady. So she introduces Cady to her newest project: M3GAN (Amie Donald; voice: Jenna Davis), a child-size doll with such advanced programming that she seems to have a life of her own. But all new programs comes with glitches, and M3GAN’s glitches turn out to be quite dangerous.

M3GAN is the wonderful kind of film that knows exactly what it is and leans into that with its ridiculous plot and campy aesthetics. That may not make it particularly scary, but it does make it a whole lot of fun to watch.

The film poster showing M3GAN (Amie Donald) looking at Cady (Violet McGraw).

There is plenty of creepiness to be had in M3GAN but it never moves past creepy into outright scary. And that is perfectly alright. There’s no need for it to be really scary when it is so much fun. It’s easily to forgive the film for not having any reason to have M3GAN dance while she is on a killing spree when it is just so awesome to watch. The good thing is, the film knows that, and knows it exactly, and is very comfortably itself. There is no irony, no pretension, no bending over backwards to become something “more”. That is rare and it is a joy.

There are a couple of serious notes here. The film is centered around a traumatized child and overwhelmed and not particularly willing guardian. The way Cady and Gemma slowly grow together is nicely handled and contains some interesting nuggets about (unexpected/unwanted) parenthood and grief. But it hints more at possible themes than really explores them – it is too busy with M3GAN and her shenanigans.

Cady (Violet McGraw) talking to her aunt Gemma (Allison Williams) as M3GAN (Amie Donald) watches.

The cast seems to have had just as much fun with M3GAN as the audience. And M3GAN herself is really awesomely designed, with Amie Donald doing amazing body work and Jenna Davis giving her just the right mix of robotic and emotional with her voice. The film milks the uncanny valley in a way that I haven’t seen before – and it really works.

M3GAN may not make it on any end of the year “best of” lists, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy myself with it. I would definitely watch a sequel.

M3GAN (Amie Donald) in the test room.

Summarizing: glorious camp.

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