2023’s M3GAN feels like a prototype for a better product, a strong core of assembled ideas that might have needed a bit more reworking to reach it’s full potential.
Gerard Johnstone’s second full length feature is an interesting addition to the ‘killer toy’ subgenre.
While not being the first to use A.I. as a narrative spin, with the 2019’s soft reboot of Child’s Play who used this as well, M3GAN seems to understand, to a much greater extent, how to explore ideas of modern technology and its relationship to children and parenting, through the lens of a horror comedy.
Jokes fell flat, especially early on and the movie is at it’s comedic peak when it contrasts a dead serious tone with the uncanniness of a semi-human looking sentient doll.
It’s main problem is it took a while climbing to that peak because during the first half of the film it almost feels as if it’s going through the motions, carefully checking through a list of decade old tropes shown dozens of times before.
On the other hand the set-ups have some personality and that finally shun through at times.
Instead of trying to present her in a creepy way, the film starts highlighting the quirks of M3GAN, presenting the character as a silicon valley manufactured serial-killer.
As more of the doll’s traits are revealed and focused on, the more it feels like the movie finds it’s footing and the more the themes and tones build upon each other.
In the end though what really holds this movie together is the relationship between the two leads, elevated immensely by the performances of both Allison Williams and Violet McGraw, who work together to build a strong emotional anchor to the film.
Unfortunately the supporting cast doesn’t get the same opportunities to shine, as most side characters are comprised of one dimensional attributes put in place to move the plot forward.
Additionally, a similar lack of effort is felt in the direction of the film whenever M3GAN is not the focus. The presentation rarely tries anything creative, which can at times create a stale atmosphere, especially when there’s a dependence on repeat locations.
While M3GAN doesn’t really excel at any particular field, it does enough right to be entertaining throughout.
It would have been nice to have seen this concept pushed a bit further, with a more creative script and direction, but there are enough interesting ideas present, executed sequences also make this movie stand out as one of the better and more fun horror comedies of recent years.
Photo Credit: Universal Pictures