Released: 12th January
Seen: 19th January
In 2019, thanks to some wild legalese that still makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, MGM released the film Child’s Play which was a remake of the 80s classic of the same name. The big thing that made the new Child’s Play different (besides it being bad) was that the doll was actually a robot with advanced AI that had violence programmed into it… it was dumb and not good in many ways but the fact that it was a feature-length version of the “Someone switched this thing to evil” gag from Treehouse of Horror instead of the possession story that we loved was a big reason why. However, the idea of a child’s toy that kills due to faulty AI isn’t a half-bad idea, it just didn’t work with the Child’s Play franchise but if someone smart were to take that idea and make it original, fun, maybe a little campy and not stupid as fuck then maybe we might have something.
Pleased to report, M3GAN is original, fun, campy and not stupid as fuck, we absolutely have something here.
M3GAN introduces us to sweet innocent Cady (Violet McGraw) who was on her way to a nice holiday with her parents when a road accident killed her mother and father. In accordance with her mother’s wishes, Cady is left in the care of her aunt Gemma (Allison Williams). Gemma works at the toy company Funki and is meant to be working on new designs for their biggest product but has secretly been working on something she called M3GAN (Model 3 Generative Android). M3GAN is designed to take care of kids and be their friend, all thanks to an advanced AI that learns from its surroundings. Unfortunately, M3GAN has learned a few things she probably shouldn’t have and, in her intense desire to protect Cady, might be just a little more violent than anyone could’ve expected when they programmed her.
M3GAN is the kind of film that knows exactly what it’s supposed to be and does everything you could ask it to do perfectly. It gets that this idea is silly and so it never takes itself too seriously, it’s having fun with every single element of the story and makes sure the audience is having a good time too. The sense of humour is suitably wicked, never too far over the edge but dark enough to work in this scenario. It knows just when to play a moment for laughs and when to make the sharp turn into something truly unsettling, such as the grand moment from the trailer where M3GAN starts running like a predator about to catch its next meal. It’s a delicate balancing act that you wish more films would pull off as well as M3GAN does. Seriously, the last film that understood it’s concept this well was probably Violent Night and Violent Night didn’t let it’s killer dance in a hallway before killing someone with a paper cutter, so therefore M3GAN is better.
From the very opening scene of the film, you should have a good idea of just what you’re in for. The tone is set and they stick to it perfectly, playing everything with a little bit of a cheeky grin and waiting for certain moments to be turned into memes (You just know the second this film hits DVD that there will be a thousand M3GAN reaction gifs available and with good reason). It’s very much a modern take on the genre, playing to a younger tech-savvy audience who will be able to enjoy the ideas behind this a lot more. It feels like a dark twisted take on that online friend every young person has, the one who writes “I would kick their ass for you” in the replies of a Facebook post… except M3GAN actually would kick ass for you, whether you like it or not.
The element that makes this work is that the script is just effortlessly clever, filled with witty lines and committing to the fun idea. Akela Cooper wrote this and another recent wild ride Malignant, proving that she seems to get the kind of fun over the top horror that audiences crave. She clearly gets how to make this stuff work, knowing how to milk a gloriously silly concept for all its worth and deliver something that’s shocking and also just a ton of fun. She’s referred to this as Fun Horror and oh boy does it easily live up to that description. It’s fun and silly, while also being the kind of horror film you could take your curious teenager to without traumatising them.
M3GAN is glorious, a fun frolic through fear that is incredibly effective at what it’s trying to do. This film gets what the audience wants and needs out of horror, creating a joyful bit of escapism that is chock full of twisted glee. The fact that they just announced a sequel is in the works for this is awesome because M3GAN is the kind of film you just want more of and knowing we’re going to get a lot more is just delightful.