M3GAN – Film Review

After losing her parents in a tragic car crash, 8-year-old Cady (Violet McGraw) is orphaned. At the same time, her aunt Gemma (Alison Williams) is under pressure at her job as a toy designer. Her company demands she create amazing toys every child will want at low cost, while a secret $100,000 project she has been designing appears to have fizzled out.

Gemma is forced to take custody of her niece and is quickly proven to be out of her element. Inspired by Cady, Gemma completes work on her secret project. M3gan (Jenna Davis) is a ‘Model 3 Generative Android’, and she is the last doll your child will ever want or need. As M3gan pairs with Cady, the two form a close bond greater than Gemma could ever imagine. With her employer thrilled over what is sure to be a hit, Gemma begins questioning just how far M3gan will go to protect Cady

With its story by James Wan, this marks the 4th or 5th ‘creepy doll’ movie he has been involved in. This more predictable than others for better or worse as here co-writer Akela Cooper and director Gerard Johnstone deliver exactly what you expect to see going in.

The story is familiar because not only have you likely seen this all before, in the case of Child’s Play (2019), it is often beat for beat. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as M3GAN is a movie which doesn’t take itself too seriously. More of a black comedy than a horror at times where the overall ridiculousness of certain scenes is sure to bring chuckles, whether intentionally or not.

The filmmakers aiming for a wider teen audience, result in M3GAN lacking a little edge. The body count isn’t very high nor is it gory, as the film focuses more on its characters and story than gratuitous violence. This reaches varying degrees of success throughout as the campiness of M3GAN only saves it so much.

The logic of the film is almost non-existent as many of the characters behave irrationally for the sake of the plot. How Gemma’s toy company is run and the technology behind M3gan’s development feel as artificial as M3gan herself. This wouldn’t be a problem if the film didn’t keep focusing on it quite so much. 

Where the film really excels is in the overall creepiness of how it presents M3gan, the doll. Using a combination of stand ins, animatronics, and CGI, you never get used to M3gan and her presence in the film. She will at one point look like a person wearing a mask but then move in a completely artificial robotic way. As M3gan’s troublesome AI begins going further and further to protect, she becomes quite a force to be reckoned with. The relationship between Cady and M3gan too is realised very naturally. Violet McGraw turning in an impressive performance as a child dealing with trauma and growing attachment to an AI over her aunt. 

Williams, for her part, plays the distant self-absorbed character forced into a paternal role well. There is an invisible wall between her and her niece in every scene that they share. Though she never truly feels natural as the lead designer of M3gan’s complex AI. This is not to say that Williams is incapable of that position, rather it is the script and direction that let her down in that regard.

M3GAN is an extremely paint by numbers ‘psycho doll’ movie which does little to stand out from the crowd. Disappointingly, there is also clearly an unrated extended edition here waiting for a later release. But what remains is still very much a crowd pleaser and the beginning of a new franchise for James Wan. I just hope that the following instalments are a little more inventive and original than this.

Sign up to receive weekly updates on our most recent reviews.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *