“M3GAN” delivers campy horror in the form of violent A.I.

Photo credit: Vatsal Lahoti

Universal and Blumhouse’s “M3GAN,” the horror science-fiction movie about a robot doll turned evil, achieved viral status soon after its trailer dropped. For a well-known trope with a modern spin, the film’s unexpected success had Annabelle and Chucky shaking in their boots.

“M3GAN” surpassed box office expectations, making $30 million during the opening weekend. This success came as no surprise to those scrolling on Twitter and TikTok weeks before the movie’s release, who became familiar with M3GAN’s quirky dance moves and snarky one-liners. The doll quickly became the icon of any marketing director’s dreams.

With hints of suspense, drama and humor in expected places, “M3GAN” did the job of entertaining her audiences without taking her job too seriously.

Allison Williams plays Gemma, an intelligent robotics engineer who works for Funki, a big toy company in Seattle that found success selling interactive furry toys called PurrPetual Petz. But, Gemma wants more. Working in secret with two colleagues, Gemma begins work on a lifesize doll equipped with AI that would serve as any child’s on-demand best friend.

When Gemma’s niece Cady (Violet McGraw) is left orphaned after her parents died in a car crash, Gemma is given legal guardianship of the grief-stricken child. To help her cope with the loss, Gemma gifts Cady her new best friend: the eerily-realistic robot doll, M3GAN.

Against her boss’ wishes, Gemma recruits Cady and uses their friendship to prove to the market that M3GAN dolls are the next big thing. Gemma gives M3GAN the mission to protect Cady from all “emotional and physical harm,” but the misleading command quickly goes awry.

The film suffers from a shallow portrayal of cliche characters. The surface-level plot only serves to entertain, providing no deeper message. It seemed to almost hint at an existential generation lost to technology and damaged by artificial intelligence, but drastically missed its chance to drive this point home.

For a horror movie released in January, “M3GAN” exceeded expectations, went viral and entertained many. Although it probably won’t make many top ten lists of 2023, the film brought an enjoyable two hours for those who stepped into the theater.

Rating: 3/5

Rated PG-13 for terror, some strong language, a suggestive reference and violent content. Runtime: 1 hour 42 minutes. In theaters.