Dolls are terrifying. Lifeless miniature replicas of the human form that stare blankly into nothingness, planning the demise of their unsuspecting victims. Lost souls and demonic entities possess these ungodly figures waiting for the right moment to unleash hell. At least that’s what Hollywood would have you believe. M3gan however is different. More I, Robot than Child’s Play, the wired doll-bot looks to slay her place in the vast pantheon of deadly dolls.
Cady (Violet McGraw) has recently been orphaned and moves in with her aunt Gemma (Allison Williams). Both are thrown into unfamiliar territory as Gemma now faces the new challenge of raising a child. Enter the Model 3 Generation Android a.k.a. M3gan.
M3gan is Gemma’s side project at work. Instead of focusing on her boss’s (Ronny Chieng) instructions, Gemma and her team have been working on the robot prototype. A demonstration goes awry, seemingly shelving any further development of the toy. Given Gemma’s unique situation, and her inability to connect with Cady, she decides to take M3gan home for a trial run, hoping that the doll will work the way it was designed and make a connection with Cady.
Not really delving into typical horror territory, M3gan offers an absurd plot but also delivers a stern warning about the dangers of allowing technology to replace essential elements of human life. Cady and M3gan easily develop a connection, but Cady still has trouble socializing with humans. She refuses to interact with anyone unless M3gan is with her and she only opens up about her trauma with the android. Gemma slowly realizes the negative impact her creation can have. She takes a more active role in Cady’s life and tries to shut down M3gan until she can make the necessary adjustments, but M3gan has other ideas.
M3gan was built to learn and interpret. Her mind works much like a human mind but without the full human experience. According to the filmmakers, this is a deadly combination, and they have fun with it. A hyper-realistic dancing android with a fashion sense to, well, kill for, going on a killing spree of mostly annoying people is easy to cheer for. Until the final act, it is easy to find oneself rooting for the titular android.
The movie is also rife with comedy from its opening scene onward, setting a not-so-serious tone it thrives on. The kills are PG-13 friendly allowing those who get queasy to watch without fear. Jump scares are at a minimum and any moments of slight tension are resolved with comedic effect, putting audiences at ease. An unrated version is available on streaming as well, helping quench the bloodlust and need for the fright of the more hardcore horror fans.
Only time will tell if M3gan will have the same staying power as Chucky, Annabelle, or Jigsaw among others. Even if the movie falls way short of the violence, terror, and horror that cinematic killer dolls are known for, M3gan does offer ridiculous fun, and in the end, gives audiences a little something to think about.