Being sinister and silly…shouldn’t be this easy…
While on its surface; ‘M3GAN’ is the absurdist killer pre-teen android movie that you expect it to be. However it also manages to be a very sly piece of social commentary on our overreliance on technology and how it’s disconnecting us from each other.
M3GAN is a marvel of artificial intelligence, a life-like doll programmed to be a child’s greatest companion and a parent’s greatest ally. Designed by brilliant toy-company roboticist Gemma (Allison Williams), M3GAN can listen and watch and learn as she becomes friend and teacher, playmate and protector, for the child she is bonded to. When Gemma suddenly becomes the caretaker of her orphaned 8-year-old niece, Cady (Violet McGraw), Gemma’s unsure and unprepared to be a parent. Under intense pressure at work, Gemma decides to pair her M3GAN prototype with Cady in an attempt to resolve both problems—a decision that will have unimaginable consequences.
Please make no mistake, much like its titular character; this movie is unequivocally insane, however what director Gerald Johnstone does here is fantastic as he unabashedly owns every single second of it.
In many ways this entire premise could have come across like a very special edition of The Twilight Zone with its cautionary subtext about how our youth interact in the digital age and the general sense of disconnect that we all have as a society but thankfully it manages to avoid hitting us over the head with anything heavy-handed or super serious. Instead Johnstone and the script from Akela Cooper give us a ride that keeps us as an audience teetering on the line between absurd gonzo level pre-teen horror and some genuine statements about how we need to regulate how much time we spend in the virtual world versus the actual one, because the perspective of humanity reminds us that just because we can do something that we “think” is better, it doesn’t mean that we actually should.
Plus keeping it all in the PG-13 milieu was absolutely the right call, not only to allow a broader audience to get to see the movie, but as a truly salient reminder that sometimes the truly scary or creepy moments in a story like this are ones that we project on to the screen. It plays in our imagination thanks to some fantastic visual effects, crisp direction and some great performances across the board.
The team of Jenna Davis as the voice and Amie Donald as body of our title character really sync up in a way that has to be seen to be believed, it’s a very physical performance but this tandem truly find a way to make M3GAN come alive.
Alison Williams is really finding her sweet spot in the horror genre and as Gemma she truly allows the audience to have a bridge between being the clueless adult who just works on her toys and the child inside all of us that just want to play with them.
At the end of the day, M3GAN is a call to all of us to maybe back down on the digital and virtual aspects of our lives that are so prevalent these days and not be afraid to embrace something a little more tactile and dare I say human in our lives and if it takes the equivalent of the murderous dancing pre-teen android to remind of us of all that, then I dare say it’s a beautiful thing that we need more of in our lives. In order to survive as a species we need the logic to be able to embrace the silly and the serious.
- Release Date: 1/5/2023