‘M3GAN’ director names ‘Shaun of the Dead’ as an unlikely inspiration

Image via Universal Studios

M3GAN is the first bona fide horror hit of 2023, with its tale of an artificially intelligent doll wreaking havoc delighting critics and audiences since its wide release last Friday. It’s currently sitting at an impressive 93 percent on the Tomatometer, with particular attention paid to the effortless way it balances horror and comedy.

Straddling the two genres is a tricky proposition that few films get right, with horror icons like Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson have providing a firm template in how to thread the needle, but there’s another horror/comedy classic that director Gerard Johnston has named as an inspiration: Edgar Wright’s 2004 Shaun of the Dead.

In an interview with /film, Johnston revealed that the rom-zom-com has long been something he wanted to emulate:

“My big lesson from them when I first watched Shaun of the Dead and it just completely blew my mind, was just how seriously they took both genres. So that’s something that I realized when I was making Housebound that I had to do right.” 

Wright’s movie, which is set during a very British zombie apocalypse and follows Simon Pegg’s titular Shaun as he attempts to maintain a normal life in the face of shambling flesh-eating monsters, launched his Hollywood career and kicked off the Three Flavors Cornetto trilogy that would go on to encompass Hot Fuzz and World’s End.

Johnston said the movie taught him that, “If I was going to do this, I had to treat the horror as seriously as I did the comedy.” He went on to name Raimi’s Drag Me to Hell and the Evil Dead movies as similarly inspiring, while also mentioning horror master Wes Craven and the Coen Brothers as able to quickly switch tonal gears.

With M3GAN already a sizeable hit a sequel seems inevitable, so expect one of the most unique and weird characters in recent horror history to return soon.