The moment the trailer for M3GAN was released, it was immediately on everyone’s radar. It looked fun, campy, and M3GAN just felt iconic. Trailers may mislead, but in this case, it was right on the money. Like Scream 2022, M3GAN is one of the rare January releases that’s actually pretty decent.
When Cady’s (Violet McGraw) parents pass away in a car accident, she goes to live with her aunt Gemma (Allison Williams). While Gemma loves her niece, she isn’t quite sure how to be a proper parent to her. All her life she’s focused on her career in Artificial Intelligence, and with her current project, M3GAN, she’s hopes to create the ultimate, unsurpassable toy. To benefit herself, she pairs Cady up with M3GAN so that M3GAN can learn and adapt to Cady’s needs and how to be a good companion.
Initially, it would seem that M3GAN is good for Cady. The two bond fairly quickly, and M3GAN is always looking out for Cady while Gemma’s hard at work. However, because Gemma allowed Cady to interact with M3GAN without any guidance or oversight, Cady can’t do anything without M3GAN beside her.
The social commentary here is apparent, with screenwriter Akela Cooper drawing our attention to the lack of parental oversight when it comes to technology. Gadgets are readily given so that children can entertain themselves while we’re busy with our own things, but compared to the TV, there is less control over what children consume and watch. Cady, who’s always been a well-behaved child, starts showing extreme anger and anxiety when separated from M3GAN. The film highlights the danger here that technology possesses, where extensive use can lead to addiction, as well as a means for young people to distract themselves from their problems. McGraw does an excellent job showcasing Cady’s grief, and her complicated relationship with Gemma.
What I appreciate about M3GAN is that the narrative takes its time to introduce the characters and their relationships. We spend time with Gemma and Cady before the horror elements kick in, and while M3GAN is certainly a force to be reckoned with, the film never allows us to lose sight of the human characters at the centre of things.
M3GAN is also incredibly funny and campy. Much of the humour comes from Ronny Chieng playing a douchebag CEO, as well as M3GAN herself. She’s dancing, she’s singing, and it’s all incredibly funny. The story is fairly typical, since M3GAN starts out more benevolent before evolving to more violent actions and impulses. But there’s quite a bit of surprise too, with narrative threads that pan out a little differently than expected. The movie also wants us to consider how children play with their toys, and if their actions foreshadow darker ones to follow
While there’s some blood and gore, and dark themes, the movie does feel a little tame, especially when Cooper’s previous brain child with James Wan was Malignant. Obviously not all horror is meant to hit home in the same way, M3GAN isn’t quite nuanced enough to affect the viewer on a deeper level. And I guess it’s not meant to. It’s the kind of movie you have fun at the cinema with, and then it’s time to go home.
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