Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans

M3GAN ***


Directed by Gerard Johnstone.
Starring Alison Williams, Violet McGraw.
Horror, US, 102 minutes, certificate 15.

Released in cinemas in the UK 13th January by Universal Pictures


Just when you thought Chucky, Annabelle and the Demonic Toys were the only malevolent killer dolls left in the cupboard, along comes M3GAN. Her name is an acronym for Model 3 Generative Android, a serious upgrade on the seemingly innocent toy doll with her self-learning AI capabilities that match her up with a young girl grieving the loss of her parents and nurturing a sense of protection that soon turns lethal for anyone who gets in her way, all whilst indulging in some niftily executed Tik-Tok ready dance moves.


The orphaned Cady is the young girl who finds herself the unwitting test subject for M3GAN, after her parents die in a snow bound road accident. Taken under the care of her aunt Gemma, the two struggle to make a connection, helped in no small part by Gemma’s commitment to her work and a looming deadline to complete a cheaper line of cute annoying toys to avoid being undercut by her company’s competitors. Gemma decides to introduce Cady to M3GAN and is taken aback by how well Cady responds to the unnerving automaton and its unexpected instincts for emotional support. M3GAN’s support soon takes a darker turn as Gemma tries to separate the two friends, causing the robot to take increasingly drastic acts of violence that would have Isaac Asimov spinning in his grave.


The titular robot is not the only thing that is self-aware here. This is a slickly executed piece of technophobia that has a healthy streak of humour running throughout it while also delving into more serious subjects. Childhood grief and the attachment issues that spring forth from such an issue as well as every modern parent’s nightmare; the addictive nature of screen time are also examined, but in a way that never threatens to derail the films wicked tone. Gerard Johnstone, making an overdue return to film making after 2014’s HOMEBOUND, skilfully handles the comedic and satirical elements, with a sly nod to ROBOCOP at one point, and delivers a crowd pleaser that Blumhouse is becoming increasingly known for. At the same time however, there is a sense that he has been told to play it safe.


Leading up to what looks to be a third act that combines a take down of commercialism with some inventive carnage instead leads into something on a smaller scale that we have seen before many times. Whilst enjoyable it does feel like a missed opportunity and one hopes that the more interesting angles will be explored further in the already greenlit M3GAN 2.0 which is now due to hit screens in two years. Such an announcement unwittingly falls in line with the pushy corporate ethos that drives the fictional M3GAN’s own toy company in the pursuit of profit, an ethos which as it turns out is not all that different from the one driving Blumhouse themselves.


Nevertheless, this is an effortlessly entertaining slice of robo-terror and one that makes a fine companion piece to UPGRADE, Leigh Whannel’s superior tale of AI run amok, also released by Blumhouse. It will be interesting to see what upgrades will be applied to M3GAN herself in future instalments with the hope that Johnstone himself will have less interference in his own vision.


Iain MacLeod.


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Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans