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M3gan Review: Murder, Laughs and Sick Dance Moves

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M3gan gets 2023 off to a full throttle start. It’s not often that the first major release of the year hits this hard. And let’s make this abundantly clear, M3gan hits hard, then rears back and hits you again. It’s like a flurry murder, jokes and campy entertainment, bludgeoning audiences back to the heyday of 80’s schlock. I saw this movie in a packed promotional screening and the unified reactions of laughs, jumps and cheers from the audience at all the right moments solidified my gut feeling; this is exactly the movie that the people wanted to see based on its viral marketing campaign.

Cady (Violet McGraw) is suddenly orphaned when both of her parents are killed in a violent car crash. She goes to live with her aunt, Gemma (Allison Williams), who works as a high tech toy designer, specializing in toys that suspiciously resemble Furbies. Her work consumes her day to day life, and her lack of experience with children make for a rocky transition. However, when Gemma introduces Cady to M3gan (Model 3 Generation Android), the highly advanced artificially intelligent toy helps Cady to cope with the sudden loss of her family. As the bond between child and toy grow, M3gan becomes obsessed with protecting Cady, no matter the cost.

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The obligatory comparison here is to Chucky. The murderous ‘Good Guy Doll’ with thick red hair and a diabolical cackle has cemented himself into the slasher hall of fame, making the comparison almost necessary, though completely off base. Outside of the ‘killer doll’ dynamic, the two share virtually zero similarities. I say this with extreme trepidation, for fear of upsetting the diehard horror hounds of twitter, but Chucky would be running scared from M3gan if the two were ever to come face to face. Her extreme intelligence coupled with her immense strength and dexterity make her a killer machine rivaled by few. She’s essentially a combination of The Bad Seed (1956) and Deadly Friend (1986).

Also Read: M3gan PG-13 Reshoots Ended Up Making Movie Even More Terrifying 

The film utilizes the natural discomfort of the uncanny valley to create M3gan’s disturbing appearance. She’s incredibly lifelike, and at first glance could easily be mistaken for a living and breathing young girl. However, after only a moment of looking at her, our brain begins to tell us that something isn’t right, even if we can’t quite put our finger on what it is. Like the feline/human hybrids of Cats or the nightmare children from The Polar Express.

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People have an intense fascination with technology turning against us. Artificial Intelligence becoming self aware and choosing to turn against its creator has been a significant part of cinema for decades. Even HAL from Stanley Kubrick’s timeless masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey fits the mold. This fascination stems from a real fear, and as our technological advances move further along, the opportunities to exploit those fears for entertainment grow.

M3gan should not have worked as well as it did. The odds were stacked against it, yet it surpassed expectations by leaning into the campiness of its story and pushing the boundaries of its final act. Director Gerard Johnstone makes a lot of smart choices to ensure that M3gan stands out in a genre that had nearly been pumped dry. Why does M3gan run on all fours like a rabid coyote in other woods? I have no idea, but you can be sure that the imagery will remain embedded in my brain (and nightmares) for years to come. What more could you ask for?


8 Out of 10

Written by Joshua Ryan

Joshua Ryan is the Creative Coordinator and Head Film Critic for FandomWire. He's a member of the Critics Choice Association and spokesperson for the Critics Association of Central Florida. Joshua is also one of the hosts of the FandomWire review based Podcast, Cinema Stubs.

Twitter: @MrMovieGuy86 Instagram: @MrMovieGuy86