M3GAN – Film Review
by Fran Winston
Directed by: Gerard Johnstone
Writers – Akela Cooper(screenplay by), James Wan(story by)
Starring: Allison Williams, Jenna Davis, Violet McGraw, Amie Donald
In cinemas on January 13th
From the sentient ventriloquist dummy to the likes of Chucky and Annabel the killer doll trope has been done a lot. Despite this, the writers (Akela Cooper and James Wan) have managed to put a somewhat new spin on it with this offering about a lifelike AI doll that takes its task of caring for a child very seriously.
M3EGAN stands for Model 3 Generative Android, a prototype designed by roboticist Gemma (Williams). When she takes her niece Cady (McGraw) in following her parent’s death she pairs her with M3GAN to help her work through her grief. Initially, the doll lives up to her programming to be a loyal companion, quickly becoming Cady’s best friend. But her ability to learn as she goes means that she quickly develops an intellect far beyond what Gemma imagined and she takes looking after Cady deadly seriously. She targets anything or anyone she deems as a threat to the child. As the body count piles up Gemma realises that there is a problem. However, her boss is planning on using M3GAN in a showcase to announce the mass production of the doll. With Cady ever more dependent on her robotic friend and M3GAN becoming increasingly erratic, Gemma’s job is on the line you can tell that this won’t end well.
Like most killer doll movies this is somewhat absurd and requires you to park your common sense at the door. However, this also has some serious underlying messages about parents using technology as child pacifiers and our dependence on devices. Indeed, the premise wouldn’t be out of place in a series of Black Mirror.
It is worth noting that the character of M3GAN is not CGI’d – there’s a real person playing her in the form of Amie Donald, with the voice courtesy of Jenna Davis. Both do an extraordinary job, and it is somewhat fitting that a movie that extolls the toxicity of technology doesn’t rely on it for effects.
If Phillip K Dick wrote Annabelle this would probably be the result. Although it is predictable you still want to watch to see how they execute it. It is campy and chaotic and a lot of fun but also chilling and with a healthy dose of social commentary. Despite this, it never takes itself too seriously and the result is an entertaining romp.
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