TOYS AND TRIUMPHS: M3GAN REVIEW
James Wan (Saw, Dead Silence) has been puppeteering the horror box office for the better part of the last two decades. Now, Wan has a shiny new toy in his arsenal - M3gan. Bravely competing in theaters with one of the highest grossing films of all time, M3gan emerged victorious with killer box office numbers. She can sing! She can dance! She can definitely get a bag. But is this sensational toy truly titanium?
Since last October, this movie’s marketing campaign has been inescapable. From Twitter to TikTok, M3gan danced her way into the pop cultural zeitgeist; bloodied machete in hand. Blumhouse even sent “dolls” on a flash mob tour across major cities. What breaks the feature apart from its viral counterparts is its lack of gimmick. The film surprises in its substance and world building, thanks to writer Akela Cooper (Malignant). There’s no rehashing of tired A.I. horror tropes.
Instead of dwelling on the pathos of granting artificial intelligence its own agency, M3gan’s existential turmoil grounds the narrative. For example, one of the musical doll’s most chilling lines is even offered as moral judgment upon her youngest victim. Violet McGraw’s portrayal of traumatized orphan Katie heightens the sense of reality here. Gemma (Get Out’s Allison Williams) and her Frankenstein-esque relationship to her creation adds textured nuance as well. Apart from Katie’s cringe-worthy entrance into final confrontation and the obligatory police siren ending, M3gan struts along a well-balanced line between horror and comedy.
Horror can be fantastically effective in every rating. Director Gerard Johnstone revealed the production's reshoots aimed at a PG-13 rating. Changes like these often occur to appeal to younger audiences for greater profit. Johnstone credits these changes as having improved the final product. Yet, in a time where A.I. art is criticized for stripping artists of identity, it’s noteworthy that this art ABOUT A.I. would modify to fit a marketing algorithm. No matter how she was manufactured, M3gan is a great deal of fun that is surprisingly worthy of her hype. We’re just waiting on that next model.