M3gan (aka Don't Meet M3gan / MEgan) review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso
Behold! M3GAN is the horror icon you’ve been waiting for. Enough of your pissing and moaning about how we no longer have any more Freddy Krugers or Jason Vorhees to become classics of horror. M3GAN isn’t just the ultimate toy every kid wants in this narrative, but the killer with a personality that makes them compelling enough to continue for many movies (maybe even a crossover with Chucky).
It helps that this sci-fi horror has a surprisingly solid foundation behind its killer android allure. The young girl Cady becomes an orphan after her parents are killed in a car crash. She is placed in the care of Gemma, a toy inventor who is incredibly stressed about trying to make the following tech toy hit. Unable to parent as effectively as she’d like, she thinks that further developing her AI-infused living doll, M3GAN, could bring Cady out of her shell and make her feel comfortable. Maybe too comfortable. While the chipper nature of the M3GAN makes her an ideal playmate and educational device, she makes Cady far too dependent on her to regulate her emotions. Also, M3GAN is getting a bit TOO smart for her own good. It’s never a good sign when an AI starts learning more about death on her own.
M3GAN is a film that fluctuates between being a silly slathering of sci-fi/horror absurdity and a genuinely meaningful contemplation of the reliance on technology for coping with the world. It’d be easy for this film to turn on the autopilot of “iPads simply are bad” or “Skynet is evil” tropes that have been exhausted to death. But the developing relationship between Cady and Gemma is highly relatable and touches on some relatively strong points I did not expect from this Blumhouse horror movie.
That being said, those seeking M3GAN to deliver some vicious and ridiculous kills will not be disappointed. Everything from her combo of nail gun and poison to a bloody stabbing amid a song and dance number is a lot of dark fun. Even better, this is a film that seems well aware of its own absurdity that it can lean in and play it up. For example, the hilarious scenes occur when M3GAN attempts to calm Cady with a sweet song she sings while stroking Cady’s face. You can sense a particular winking nature in these moments between all the giddiness of the violence and tech gone awry. It also helps that you have Ronny Chieng as a cocky and egotistical toy company CEO, hamming it up as he argues for kombucha and asks if his robot dolls can be priced lower than a Tesla. Naturally, he gets to have the funniest death in this entire farce.
The special effects work well here. Watching M3GAN contort her body and give off subtly evil expressions with her uncanny valley face has an incredibly distinct nature. It’s more than enough to separate the character from familiar depictions of similar horror characters. M3GAN is not just vicious in her kills but in her dialogue as well. She confronts Gemma in a bitter exchange of technological reliance that is hard to shake and requires a fight for survival that goes beyond just ripping off M3GAN’s skin. Although you do get plenty of that in the action-packed finale.
M3GAN is such a surprise horror movie for how it manages to be a fantastic mixture of silliness and poignancy amid all its goofy violence. It’s a ridiculous film and it knows it, not afraid to make M3GAN do an unforgettable dance right before she cuts up some humans with a paper cutter. In terms of killer android/doll movies, this is one of the better ones and is sure to be revered as the top contender in this arena of Child’s Play and Puppet Master.