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Already we find ourselves in an unexpected situation in this very early new year. January for many years has been called a bit of a quiet month if we are being polite, and a movie dumping ground if we aren’t. But not only is January 2023 rather stacked for releases, but 2022’s horror excellence has clearly continued this year with a film that we expected to be fun but did not expect to be an all singing, all dancing (literally) triumphant origin for a new generation’s horror icon. Everybody, meet M3GAN…
The film sees young girl Cady (an excellent Violet McGraw) lose her parents in a tragic car accident, having to relocate with her aunt Gemma (Allison Williams), who is not perhaps best equipped for a child but must make it work for Cady’s sake. Gemma’s groundbreaking work at a world leading high tech toy company might hold the key however to making things easier, as might her new project M3GAN. An artificially intelligent, ever learning, humanoid robot doll, that gives its user everything they could possibly need. But some things start going a little bit wrong, as Cady and M3GAN’s close relationship gets a little extreme to say the least…
M3GAN is like a wicked blend of Child’s Play and The Terminator, by way of Malignant. A wild horror experience, that is a modern, high tech, layered and rather camp display of chills, kills and satirical thrills. Essentially doing what Chucky did decades ago (and still does today), for the fresher faced TikTok generation (please, don’t let that line put you off, because there is stuff here for all ages).
That all said, don’t just expect a dancing singing psycho robot doll movie, I mean you do get that, so much more. M3GAN offers an engaging, somewhat cautionary, look at how technology and our obsession with it and submission to it threatens to destroy traditional joys, overtake childhood and replace human connection, and ultimately invites anarchy. Additionally taking aim at the changing shape of parenthood, adolescence and dealing with trauma in our modern times.
Opening with a toy advert (think Robocop’s corporate ads with furbie-like toys!), from here on in M3GAN never ceases to keep catching you delightfully off guard, with inventive uses of musical numbers (Anthony Ellis’ music is very diverse here), some unexpected poignant heft and an antagonist compellingly brought to life by a combination of practical and digital effects, and a living performance.
Amie Donald (who physically plays M3GAN) and Jenna Davis (who voices her), together create something, or rather someone, very impressive, memorable and unsettling. Not to mention fierce. While the other cast also do some great work in making Akela Cooper’s fantastic and deep screenplay activate on the big screen, as Cooper and producer James Wan’s concept is joyously delivered, and ridiculously entertaining.
Talk about starting the year off with a bang! M3GAN is funny, creepy and with a sharp satirical insight and edge, that never lets up all the way up to an all out finish. The hype and acclaim is wholly justified and we can indeed welcome a new face to the horror icons club.
“This is the part where you run”…to your nearest cinema.