Friendship Has Evolved.
Friendship Has Evolved.
Blumhouse Productions’ first genre entry of the year just hit theatres and offers a satisfying amount of camp, comedy and suspense. Writers James Wan and Akela Cooper introduce us to the savage, AI-generated M3GAN and she’s a welcome addition to the horror doll family.
After losing her parents in a car accident, 8-year-old Cady (Violet McGraw) is taken in by her aunt Gemma (Allison Williams), a robotics engineer who works at a toy company called Funki. Striving to impress her boss and be on the pulse of the hottest new technology trend, Gemma develops a realistic AI doll named M3GAN (model 3 generative android) and pairs her with her grieving niece for company and distraction. Soon, the doll becomes threatening and self-aware, proving she’ll go as far as murder to keep her owner Cady happy.
As expected, M3GAN is the star of this show and we’re reminded of that with her melodramatic musical numbers, fierce dance moves and witty clapbacks. A true horror icon in the making, between kills she also serves fashion and bitchy facial expressions that are sure to be meme-worthy for years to come. She has a chilling presence and her movements and mannerisms are so realistic it’s hard to believe she’s meant to be a doll. The best parts of the film are when she’s at her most ruthless. Filmmakers brought to life this killer robo-doll through a physical performance by Amie Donald, makeup, puppetry, animatronics, special effects and digital visual effects; the combination results in an extremely eerie and larger-than-life character.
Violet McGraw shines as Cady and you genuinely feel for her as she works through the trauma of losing her parents and being placed in a cold and unfamiliar environment. Naturally, she develops an unhealthy obsession with M3GAN and starts to spiral when her time with the doll is limited. Allison Williams plays the role of Gemma well but she doesn’t have many redeeming qualities. She comes off unlikable in some instances and feels as robotic as M3GAN, displaying no signs of emotion about losing her sister and little empathy after realizing the doll she designed is on a killing spree. It’s nice to see her team up at the end with her niece Cady but I wasn’t totally invested in her character’s well-being. Other cliche characters are added to the mix, like the short-tempered boss who likes to throw things and the nosey neighbor who can’t keep track of her dog, but still, performances overall were on a positive note.
The killer doll narrative has been done countless times before but M3GAN makes an attempt to be elevated, tackling themes of society’s overreliance on technology, attachment syndrome and childhood trauma. Even with its predictable moments, the film is majorly entertaining throughout and tightly paced. It’s good to note that M3GAN is PG-13 so there’s not as much graphic violence as one may expect in a film of this kind. A lot of the deaths aren’t fully displayed on screen and sometimes this can be more effective, but here it feels like a missed opportunity. The film is more toned down and would be best described as a sci-fi thriller/dark comedy moreso than a full on horror. There aren’t any extremely scary moments but it succeeds in being creepy on many levels and offers loads of humor with a few jump scares.
While its concept isn’t the most original, M3GAN is a well-constructed and fun film to dive into the new year with. It’s emotional and dark but doesn’t take itself too seriously. Depending on how it performs, I see the potential for a M3GAN part 2. She gives Tiffany and Annabelle a run for their money!