Let’s talk about M3gan.
Technology and horror have always been great bedfellows. Because while we are scared of what goes bump in the night, we are truly terrified of what our computers could end up doing. Have any of you tried that ChatGPT yet? It’s an AI interface that can write essays for you. Heck, I can get it write this review. I actually did as well, and here it is. But that is scary that an openly available AI can do very intelligent things. What the hell do Google and Amazon have hidden in ther HQs? So it’s going to be a very easy trope to draw on over the next few years for horror directors. And so, we come to M3gan.
Gemma gets the custody of her niece Cady following the death of the little girl’s parents. They struggle to connect but Gemma decides to use her latest project, an AI lifelike doll called M3gan, as Cady’s friend to help her settle. However M3gan starts to take the instruction to protect Cady to the nth degree and becomes a danger to everyone.
Let’s just get it established that while this is a horror movie when you classify by genre, it is not scary. I don’t even think the film is trying to be scary though. This is the sort of horror movie where you laugh at it. There’s jump scares, but instead of them trying to terrify you, it’s more to give the romantic people watching an excuse to put their arm around their prospective partner. Obviously because it is a film about a killer doll that is more amusing than scary, it’s then very easy to start comparing it to Chucky. Heck, this film plots quite a similar path to the remake of Chucky, which turned the doll from being possessed by the soul of a serial killer to murderous AI. And there’s little more I can say about that because this film definitely owes a lot to the Chucky franchise. It is distinctly different in its messages, themes and atmosphere, but it’s walking on the same path as him.
The only problem with the fun horror idea is that the film sets itself up like a serious gonna make you crap your pants film. It takes a long time to set itself up. You get the whole genesis of the M3gan idea, have the M3gan doll slowly turn from a sweet friend into the cutest killer around and also have the various other stakes set up. This sort of template works if you are going to have an incredibly intense ending that will make you have nightmares for the rest of the year, thank you Midsommar for being the reason my therapist was able to buy a Ferrari last year by the way, but when the eventual horror bits end up being a bit more schlock than scary, you wan more of them. Perhaps in the already announced sequel where they won’t need all the set-up, we will have more fun kills than slow scenes of people sort of not getting on.
Of course when it finally goes for it, the film is just really fun. It absolutely revels in how mad it is and it helps that the character of M3gan feels so real. This is an iconic character in the making. My bet is that the Halloween costume this year is going to be M3gan and you’ll see quite a lot of people wearing the dress and doing the dance, but hopefully not stabbing someone at the end of it. She becomes a really fun villain to enjoy watching go down the black hole of madness and you can definitely see a franchise building around this. We already know a sequel is coming and while I’m not going to bet on the quality, I think we are going to see a lot of sequels, probably even one in space. And if it keeps offering really fun kill scenes and even going completely insane in the conclusion, Craig Charles would be proud is my only spoiler, I’ll probably end up watching them. However, I do hope the unrated cut comes out at some point because it could do with a bit of blood at times.
Of course, the film’s fun does paper over the cracks of what is a familiar story. We have seen the message that kids shouldn’t be too attached to technology before, though I think it’s fairly new that the message is aimed more at parents, telling them not to use tech as a crutch for their parenting. And the whole idea of tech going too far with their programming has been done a million times before. Like this is the sort of film where I half expected the characters to mention that films have had robots told to protect end up killing people to make sure of that protection all of the time. But it doesn’t and the film plots a familiar path which you have definitely seen before.
If you go into M3gan expecting a terrifying horror movie which shows you the true terror of artificial intelligence, you are going to be very disappointed. But if you go into the movie with a few friends expecting a laugh as the modern evolution of a Furby decides to go on a murder rampage to make her best friend feel safer, you’re going to have a really good time. M3gan is an iconic character in the making who lights up the screen every time she’s on and there’s enough entertaining scenes in the movie to make this a really good time. So grab some popcorn, have a laugh and try not to give your Alexa too much side eye because who knows what it’s capable of.