M3GAN paving the way for a new subgenre

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This is an artistic depiction of the doll in M3GAN. She has long straight hair, a cute knee length dress, and a bow around her neck.
Dolls are supposed to be cute . . . right? Lee Lim

Are you afraid of dolls? 

Hollywood loves horror movies about dolls. From Chucky to Annabelle, all the way to Brahms from The Boy, people are easily terrified by killer dolls or haunted dolls, or maybe both at the same time. The latest entry into this category is the movie M3GAN.  

The story follows a young girl, Cady, who recently lost her parents and moved in with her aunt Gemma, a toy creator working with a company to make the best new toys. Gemma makes a high-powered robotic doll she calls M3GAN, or simply Megan. Megan is powered by artificial intelligence and she’s made to pair with the child that she would be the doll to.   

Remember, this is a horror movie, so Megan isn’t as wholesome as she seems at first.  

This review is not spoiler-free, so if you haven’t seen M3GAN yet and you want to avoid spoilers, there’s your warning to stop here.  

The first thing the movie needs to do is give Megan a reason to become a killer doll. They actually do a pretty good job of this. The audience sees Gemma rushing through the creation of Megan for a work presentation, so it makes sense that she forgot to program any stops into Megan.  

Megan also has really clear motivations. Something that often bothers me about horror movies is when villains have no motivation for what they’re doing. Megan’s only goal is to protect Cady, and every kill helps her on her way to reaching her goal.  

My biggest issue with this movie was the kills themselves. This movie was very clearly PG-13 in its kills. The coolest thing they did was when Megan ripped the little boy’s ear off; it didn’t get any more graphic than that. She shot the old lady in the hand with a nail gun, which could have been so cool, but it wasn’t. Again, when she sprayed the old lady in the face with the insecticide, there was a chance for some interesting and impressive special effects and her face could have melted off or bubbled up, but there was nothing. It was boring.  

Even when she killed the two men in the elevator, there was a chance for the kills to be way more dynamic. They were basic. When you’re doing something like a killer robot movie, lean into it a little bit more. Let the robot do things most people can’t, not just stab two men in an elevator. I would love to see an unrated cut or a director’s cut of this movie with full gore.  

In terms of acting, this movie was well-cast and well-acted. I first saw Violet McGraw who plays Cady as a young Nell in The Haunting of Hill House. I was equally as impressed by her in M3GAN. McGraw plays a very convincing young girl who is devastated by her parents’ deaths and is getting disturbingly emotionally attached to her new doll.  

Allison Williams as Gemma is equally fantastic. You can clearly see how she’s struggling to be a parent to Cady and at the same time, trying to build Megan to be the best possible toy. These two goals often clash and it causes a lot of conflict in the movie. This is pulled off by McGraw and Williams’ incredible acting. 

M3GAN is also goofy and fun. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, which I think is necessary for a killer robot movie where the robot does a side aerial in a hallway before killing a man. With a different tone, the movie would be a lot worse.  

I recommend M3GAN to horror fans looking for something fun. If you’re a big gore fan, don’t expect too much out of this PG-13 film. It’s a cult classic in the making and will likely become a horror staple in the next decade or so. There’s already a sequel in the works, so M3GAN will be back on the big screen soon.   

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