The killer doll sub-genre is still alive and well (and relevant) - 6.5/10

by Jad Sammour

I had a lot of fun with M3GAN. I went into the film expecting a shallow, fun horror comedy about a killer doll but what I got was an almost well-cooked satire about AI, technology, marketing, and the toys industry that was richer than I expected it to be.

M3GAN was not particularly scary (tension, thrills, atmosphere, etc…) but it packed a few brutal kills that happened off-screen. They do seem purposely censored by the filmmakers (and they were to get a PG-13 rating) but they still land as brutal and somewhat shocking. Where the film shines, is by showing the relationship triangle between the two main human characters and M3GAN and through it extract and display many thematic notions. I wish they focused just a bit more on the relationship between Gemma and Cady in the first act to nail the emotional aspect of the story.

The first and second acts were loaded with satire and development. I think all the story’s themes and ideas were well-delivered and handled. Sadly, the third act was not inventive and didn’t try to push the concept forward: it did what was expected of it in a film of this sorts making the film end in a somewhat flat and unfulfilling way. Regardless, what came before, in my opinion, hit the nail in the head. From AI, to technology, to ethics and money, research, emotion getting in the way of rational decisions, children, toys, parenting, marketing, exploitation, corporations… lots of themes, all handled (mostly) well – it didn’t pretend to be what it isn’t and focused on its core and its ramifications. The film needed more direct finger-pointing sometimes though.

Of course I should mention that why would the creator of a robot of this type give it this much grip and physical strength? Also other issues like this in the story really annoy me but the film needed to happen...

The animatronic doll was well-made but the walking in the large shots felt too-human for a robot - compared to the face and other hand gestures. (There was one shot where the CG face replacement of M3GAN was very obvious and a bit sub-bar). M3GAN’s voice actress was good, and so was the main and secondary cast (but some characters were too caricature-ish because of the actors’ performance).

It is natural to compare this film to Chucky (both original film series and remake film) and M3GAN may become the Chucky of this generation, even though she’s not scary but I think M3GAN represents a timely and justified paranoia that this film adequately develops. M3GAN can be considered an uncanny that feels more human than human yet un-human, which is rationally terrifying and this is where the film really creeps you out, especially with the current advancements in AI technology. The parallels between M3GAN (2022) and Child’s Play (2019) are many but M3GAN succeeds where Child’s Play fails and does better what its “predecessor” did – even if M3GAN seems like the copycat here.

Overall, this was a pretty good watch, successful at combing theme, story, and characters into a film that succeeded at doing what it wanted to do when many others films like it failed.

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