M3GAN is Here and Here to Slay

Stop the count. It’s over. We’re barely a week into 2023 and someone has already won the year. No, it’s not a politician. Not a scientist who made an incredible discovery. Not some tech mogul who’s revolutionized the world. No, these individuals don’t come close to the entity holding this year’s crown. That entity is none other than the Model 3 Generarative Android, or M3GAN for short, a four-foot titanium doll. But, she isn’t your typical four-foot titanium doll. She can talk, has the ability to learn and emote, sing, dance, and above all, kill. 

M3GAN first graced our lives in a trailer for her movie, aptly titled M3GAN (some could say it’s even a biopic), a couple of months ago and set the internet ablaze. Many were disappointed to learn that her movie wouldn’t be released until January, therefore, disqualifying her for contention at the 2022 Academy Awards It’s shame because there’s no doubt M3GAN would’ve cleaned up at the Oscars—fingers crossed for 2023!

In all seriousness, M3GAN is a ton of fun and one of the best early January releases in recent times. January is usually a dumping ground for movies (dubbed “Dumpuary” by some) but M3GAN and Scream from 2021 are proof you can release good films at the beginning of the year. Produced by James Wan and written by him and Malignant scribe Akela Cooper, M3GAN has all of Malignant’s absurd and is-this-really-happening DNA in the best way possible. This is a rollicking, hilarious, and entertaining time at the movies that should be watched with the biggest crowd.

M3GAN menacingly stares outside Gemma's house.
M3GAN stands outside Gemma’s home.

After a tragic car accident, young Cady (Violet McGraw) is left orphaned and has to move to Seattle to live with her roboticist aunt Gemma (Allison Williams). Gemma is swamped at her toy company and isn’t ready to be Cady’s guardian. Much to the chagrin of her boss David (a righteous Ronny Chieng), Gemma has been toying with an expensive lifelike android rather than making a cheaper version of their best-selling toy pets. 

With some inspiration from Cady and an old invention, Gemma finishes the android and creates M3GAN. M3GAN is set to revolutionize the tech world and become Cady’s best friend. But, as she evolves, she becomes dangerous to everyone around her and is ready to cause chaos. 

What works about M3GAN is that it’s self-aware. This movie is not trying to be elevated horror in the vein of Midsommar or Get Out. It’s as much of a true comedy as it is horror and everyone behind and in front of the camera understands that. Director Gerard Johnstone with collaboration from Wan and Cooper leans into the silly elements rather than shying away from them. It’s what made Malignant a hoot and is what makes M3GAN an even bigger one. 

M3GAN and Cady (Violet McGraw) talk and play outdoors.
M3GAN and Cady (Violet McGraw) play outside.

Just from M3GAN’s look, you know this isn’t your typical horror flick. She looks too human and not human enough at the same time. She mostly wears this incredible chic beige outfit, stunting on any other titanium dolls she may come across. Her voice is robotic but can be menacing when she goes into villain mode. The things she does are even more ludicrous than her look. The TikTok-style dancing is unnerving, but nothing is more frightening or more amusing than M3GAN singing David Guetta and Sia’s “Titanium” to Cady at bedtime. I wouldn’t be shocked if that moment ends up somewhere on my list of best scenes of 2023. 

With a PG-13 rating, the film is limited in what it can show in terms of blood and gore, but we still get some gnarly kills from Queen M3GAN. One includes pulling a young boy’s ear off and another involves a nail gun and pressure washer. Though it would be fun to see what the demented minds of Johnstone, Wan, and Cooper could have created with an R rating—I would pay a lot of money for the trio to create a scene similar to the prison hold scene in Malignant

David (Ronny Chieng) runs down a red-walled hallway from M3GAN.
David (Ronny Chieng) runs from M3GAN.

In addition to being self-aware, it’s important to have actors who are also committed to the bit, and thankfully Johnstone has a small but effective crew of actors who totally get it. Williams and Chieng are having a total blast, especially Chieng who has some of the film’s funniest lines. Both give campy performances that never feel over the top and fit the movie’s overall vibe. McGraw is quite good and is pretty frightening in the scenes where Cady gets mad at Gemma for taking M3GAN away. 

Not to be hyperbolic, but M3GAN is a triumph. Look, all I’m saying is that M3GAN is the savior we’ve been waiting for. She will fight alongside the Na’vi at reviving the box office and bringing movies back to their glory. This isn’t the last we’ve seen of her—I know M3GAN has more to say, more to do. Watch your back Annabelle, there’s a new killer doll in town.

Written by Aqib Rasheed

AQIB RASHEED is a staff writer at Film Obsessive. Member of the Chicago Indie Critics and served as the Resident Film Critic for the Loyola Phoenix from 2021-2022. An admirer of movies, old and new, from all over the world. President of the Al Pacino and David Fincher fan clubs.

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