[SPOILER-FREE] M3GAN: Look out Chucky, there’s a new doll in town

Ryan Ranc, Senior Life&Arts Film Columnist

“M3GAN,” a horror/sci-fi film directed by Gerard Johnstone and written by Akela Cooper and James Wan, follows roboticist and toymaker Gemma (Allison Williams) as she builds an AI, lifelike doll named M3GAN, played by Amie Donald and Jenna Davis, for her niece Cady (Violet McGraw), who recently lost her parents. After M3GAN and Cady meet, their connection grows until the pair become inseparable. For better or worse, M3GAN becomes a killing machine, vowing to always protect Cady.

Leading up to the film’s release, trailers and film teasers sparked questions of whether “M3GAN” would attempt to take itself too seriously or fully embrace its inherent absurdities. From the minute the movie begins, those questions vanish, and the director and writers craft the story’s conflict to perfectly lead up to murderous doll carnage. Not only does the film satisfy horror heads’ desires to see a killer doll’s rampage, it also contains a deeper message layered beneath its strange concept. “M3GAN” perfectly juggles commentary on how constant exposure to technology inhibits children’s social skills while staying true to the real reason people came to the theater: killer doll pandamonium. 

The movie shines during its moments of human interaction, such as Cady and Gemma’s heartfelt conversation about the loss of Cady’s parents in the final act. While critics may claim these serious moments pad out the runtime and overshadow the film’s gore, they actually add a perfect juxtaposition to over-the-top scenes of a murderous robot or a lady getting obliterated by a nail gun.

Unlike the typical horror tone of most Blumhouse films, this movie does not fully fit into the traditional category of a horror movie. “M3GAN” feels more like an action sci-fi flick with a central focus on technology and AI with the incorporation of some horror elements. Additionally, the film sits at a PG-13 rating, raising concerns for some viewers seeking an R-level amount of blood and gore. However, the movie remains graphic and eerie even without showing full kills on screen, making for an excellent gateway horror flick for younger audiences.

“M3GAN” exceeds every expectation one could have about a killer doll movie, rivaling some of the most iconic horror doll films such as Chucky and Annabelle. Throughout the runtime, it becomes evident every person who worked on the movie put their all into delivering a story about the delightfully devilish doll, making it no surprise that it already earned back its budget within its opening weekend. “M3GAN” is scarier than “Goosebumps “but not quite as scary as “Child’s Play,” making for an excellent watch for beginner audiences. Theaters need more horror movies for new horror fans, and it’s great to see “M3GAN” lead that charge going into 2023.

4 viral evil doll dance routines out of 5