Review: ‘M3GAN’ is a fresh take on doll-horror genre

The creepy doll horror film genre has been especially inundated in recent years. Beyond the popular “Child’s Play” franchise starring Chucky; films like “The Boy”, “Sabrina” and the “Annabelle” film series gained their own devoted audiences.

I was never really interested in the possessed doll storyline that most of these films present. It’s a plot that is hard to take seriously; yet most of these films do just that, a strategy that’s hard to carry through a film’s entirety without a fair amount of gore and decent kill scenes.

When the trailer for “M3GAN” was originally released last year, I was worried that this would be yet another film that takes itself too seriously, particularly after realizing that it’s from the producers of “Annabelle.”

“M3GAN” follows roboticist Gemma, played by Allison Williams of “Get Out” fame, who creates the title doll as a prototype for Funki, the toy company she works at.

Following the sudden deaths of her sister and brother-in-law, Gemma is left to care for her niece, Cady. Gemma finds herself ill-prepared to care for a child, let alone a child going through the trauma of losing both parents.

When Gemma decides to introduce Cady to M3GAN, it seems like the perfect solution to help Cady adjust to her new life. Cady quickly becomes inseparable from M3GAN and the two spend their days together as M3GAN learns everything about the child it is paired to.

The relationship turns from heartwarming to unhealthy and downright dangerous when Cady becomes dependent upon the company of the doll that is programmed to do anything to protect her and make her happy, even when it goes against its creator Gemma’s commands.

The film takes the familiar killer doll trope and makes it fresh by having M3GAN’s evil personality spawn from its overly intelligent AI capabilities rather than by means of possession. In an ever-increasingly technologyfueled world, this scenario doesn’t seem completely implausible.

The need to create the next best thing in artificially intelligent toys could certainly produce an entertaining but ill-contrived doll to be sold to the masses.

While this detail already separates “M3GAN” from other films like it, the movie’s real strength is in its humor.

The film begins with a toy commercial for “Purrpetual Pets” – tagline: “the pet that will outlive you”- that is laughable in its accuracy. The opener pokes fun at the constant revolving door of animatronic toys that flood the advertisements on children’s television.

In one of the most viral scenes from the film, M3GAN performs a creepy, TikTok-esque dance before charging after its next victim, wielding a paper cutter as a weapon.

Moments like this show that the film’s creators have a finger on the pulse of modern internet culture. M3GAN’s behavior is consistently meme-worthy and often straight up savage.

The laugh-out-loud moments in the movie were numerous and in celebrating its campiness, M3GAN does take a page from its predecessor Chucky in how the audience unwittingly endears themselves to the big personality of the villain.

Unlike “Child’s Play”, “M3GAN” is much less graphic and many of the kill scenes are more implied than shown in full.

While this detail didn’t deter me from thoroughly enjoying the film, I could see those looking for a real scare being disappointed in the film’s lack thereof.

While the film is more creepy than scary, the creep factor was more than enough for me to cringe inwardly at several of the scenes in the movie.

Overall, while “M3GAN” may be more comedic than horrific, the title doll has successfully cemented itself in horror movie history and brought a dead trope back to life.

It is yet to be seen if there will be more films revolving around M3GAN’s story, but if there are, there is no doubt in my mind; I will be tuning up.

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