The first wide release of 2023 is M3GAN, the latest Blumhouse horror production, opening on January 6.
It stars Allison Williams (Get Out) as Gemma, a genius engineer for a tech toy company. She works on interactive Furby-like robot pets for children, but her secret passion project is creating a Model 3 Generative Android (“M3GAN”), a lifelike doll to be your child’s new BFF.
Gemma’s sister unexpectedly dies, and she inherits care of her niece Katie (Violet McGraw). Gemma is a non-maternal workaholic that is unequipped to handle a grieving pre-teen, and figures the best solution is to fast track M3GAN for Katie. M3GAN is tasked with protecting Katie at all costs, ensuring that she is never sad or lonely again. It begins as a win-win, Katie has a friend and Gemma has someone to take care of Katie while she works on launching M3GAN. But it’s always the sweet, pretty robots that rewire themselves into psycho killer dolls.
If this movie gives you “Girl Chucky” vibes, it is because it basically is a rip-off of Child’s Play, and doesn’t even try not to be. But M3GAN is no Good Guy from a box. She is a stylized, trendy robot that blends in as a modern girl. After bringing us the nightmare-inducing cinematic treasures Jigsaw and Annabelle, co-writer and producer James Wan has the creepy doll thing down. Ascetically M3GAN looks like a teenager reviewing Amazon finds on TikTok. She talks, walks, dances, and is passable as a human girl until you look into her cold dead eyes. She is sweet and innocent until with a shrug of her shoulders and 90 degree twist of her head, you know murder is coming.
Campy horror is my guilty pleasure, and I was looking forward to seeing this, and enjoyed it but there is nothing new here. It’s predictable who is going down. I wanted it to be scary, which it isn’t at all, but it manages to maintain a creepy vibe for its entirety.
There is an underlying theme of overuse of screen time weakening human connections. Katie bonds more with M3GAN and talks back to Gemma. At one point Gemma tries to market M3GAN as a replacement for parenting because she can sing to them, read to them, teach them, discipline them, as a parent “you don’t have to do anything.”
Watch the trailer, because this film is 100% what you see is what you get. If you think it looks good, go have fun for 102 minutes. Just go in remembering that you are seeing a movie about a killer robot. If you think the trailer looks stupid, watching the film will not change your mind.