You know her, you love her, you’ve seen her dance all over your TikTok For You Page, and she’s here to dominate your local cineplex. Blumhouse brings us yet another spectacular horror comedy in the vein of 2017’s Happy Death Day. What once might have been relegated to usual “January Horror” (where mid-budget horror films with mediocre scripts go to die), M3GAN broke through with its viral marketing.
M3GAN follows the story of Cady (Violet McGraw) and her aunt Gemma (Allison Williams). After the tragic death of her parents, Cady is put into the custody of her toy designer aunt. Unable to parent, Gemma employs a child-sized doll powered by AI named M3GAN to be Cady’s best friend and caretaker. As expected, all goes awry, leading to a series of hilariously grisly robotic shenanigans.
The real power M3GAN holds is in its unabashed use of camp, treating every ludicrous plotpoint with such seriousness that you cannot help but laugh. Between cheesy dialogue and artfully clunky special effects, this movie toes the line between being dumb enough to laugh at and being clever enough to laugh with. The renewed popularity of horror-comedies like M3GAN signals a new era for the genre, and we can look forward to new entries in the horror comedy canon.
Once M3GAN has got you seated in the theater through their snappy Twitter repartee, it doesn’t disappoint. It does its best to exploit every horror trope for maximum humor from the classic pet-as-jumpscare to the wooden and clueless acting. There’s something about M3GAN that has the je ne sais qoi of a classic horror icon: she’s one part Chucky, one part Annabelle, and 100% herself. She resembles a hybrid between Elizabeth Olsen and the CGI Renesmee from Breaking Dawn Part 1. Her costuming says American Girl Doll gone off the rails, with a striped bow that serves as a visual nod to Chucky. The most insane moments of the movie are exemplified by M3GAN breaking into “Titanium” by David Guetta and Sia as an ominous lullaby. M3GAN is entirely one of those villains where you smile every time they’re on screen. Despite the fact that M3GAN doesn’t do anything violent on screen until 40 minutes into the film, the payoff is well worth it and provides enough gore to satisfy.
If you thought this movie was entirely brainless entertainment, you’d be wrong. While it is very funny, the film shines a light on the “iPad kid” epidemic in a very literal sense. M3GAN herself is the embodiment of a toy that’s designed to distract that has the potential to destroy when out of the watchful eye of a parental figure.For a horror comedy, M3GAN is surprisingly tame — even with a PG-13 rating. Looking forward, audiences might be eager for more gore and scares in a sequel or demand a R-rated cut of the film. The climax of the film is also more restrained than one might expect. All the things we want more of: more blood, more scale, more dancing, and (of course) more M3GAN, can be easily solved by a sequel. With M3GAN 2.0 already slated for release next year, I’m looking forward to a long and fruitful franchise here. I would give M3GAN a hearty 3.5 stars out of 5 because it is plain old unabashed fun. No matter your opinion of the movie, everyone can agree on one thing: M3GAN slays.
Connor Stanford is a Sophomore Theater Studies major who now fears that AI will take over the world. They can be reached at [email protected].
Art by Jenna Krause.