‘Annabelle’ and ‘M3GAN’ architect James Wan explains his killer doll obsession

M3GAN
via Blumhouse/Universal

When it comes to any professional creative endeavor, few moves are smarter than playing to your strengths. After all, any writer will tell you that “write what you know” is one of the most evergreen pieces of advice out there.

James Wan is a creative that struck gold in this department, quickly carving out his bread and butter in the form of horror films starring killer dolls, with perhaps his most prominent franchise being The Conjuring, which turned the demonic Annabelle into a household name and nightmare for generations.

Now, Wan has dreamed up the next killer doll icon in the form of M3GAN, the AI-powered, murder-happy child’s toy and the star of the upcoming film of the same name. With a 98 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it looks like Wan’s signature move isn’t running out of steam any time soon.

But you may wonder; why killer dolls? It’s not uncommon for horror films to add a layer of malevolence to innocent playthings we associate with children, as it’s a surefire way of effectively stripping familiarity and security for audiences, but how did Wan settle on killer dolls as his niche? In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Wan gave full credit for his obsession to having watched Poltergeist at an impressionable age, which of course featured a clown doll as one of the Beast’s conduits.

“I would just jot it down to watching Poltergeist at a very young age. That was definitely a very influential film for me, and I saw it at a very young impressionable age, and it made a huge impression on me, and that creepy clown doll definitely scarred me for life. But I also like to say that I’m a big collector of these kinds of things. I love my collectibles, my action figures, and so naturally, the idea of making movies based on one of these things coming to life is exciting for me.”

So there you have it. We can boil down the success of Saw, The Conjuring, and now M3GAN to the failure of parental advisory, and as long as Wan is okay with it, we can be more than happy about it, too.

M3GAN will release to theaters tomorrow on Jan. 6.