Review: ‘M3GAN’ serves camp, and slays along the way

Image via Universal

When the trailer dropped a few months ago, it was inevitable that M3GAN, the latest offering from Blumhouse Productions, would be an incredible filmgoing experience.

From her fierce dance moves glimpsed in the initial trailer to her stylish costuming, the killer doll was destined for fame. Thankfully, the actual movie lives up to the hype and brings all the campiness we could want, while interrogating real questions about parenting in an age of pervasive technology.

After her parents die in a car accident, young Cady (Violet McGraw) is sent to live with her robotics inventor aunt Gemma (Allison Williams). The sudden tragedy throws the pair together, something Gemma seems unsure about. She feels like she has enough on her plate with work at toy company, Funki.

Gemma has been trying to convince her boss (Ronny Chieng) that her follow-up to the first interactive toy she invented, Purrpetual Petz, is going to be one of the most advanced ever put on the market. She just needs to work out some glitches beforehand. However, Cady’s arrival and her guardian’s lack of interest in parenting help speed up the process (right past proper testing), and soon enough, M3GAN (short for Model 3 Generative Android) is awake and in action, ready to be Cady’s best friend. 

Swiftly, it becomes clear that M3GAN is ready to go to any lengths to protect Cady from emotional or physical harm — murderous, violent lengths. From here on out, what we get is a delightfully unhinged and campy cautionary tale about technology taking the lead in parenting.

From the beginning, it’s clear that Cady’s well-being is in jeopardy because the people who are supposed to care for her are frankly more interested in profit and professional development. Taking the time to actually listen and help Cady is seen initially as a burden, and so Gemma decides to opt-out via M3GAN, a dangerous choice. Akela Cooper, the film’s screenwriter who also penned 2021’s much beloved Malignant, knows how to balance these real questions and concerns with unhinged and uneasy fun.

Perhaps M3GAN’s best quality is that it knows exactly what kind of movie it is. The campiness is intentional and genuinely funny! It’s hard to not have fun with a horror movie centered around a killer doll (hi, Chucky franchise), but it’s still lovely to see a movie hang on to a silly concept and run with it.

Aside from the script, there are several things that make the whole affair work. First of all, there are committed performances from everyone in the cast, especially Amie Donald, the young dancer performer behind M3GAN’s physical performance. The title character herself is a combination of Donald’s performance, animatronics, and puppeteering, as well as a vocal performance from Jenna Davis.

The result is a creepy, delightful new addition to the evil doll horror subgenre. M3GAN could stand to be a touch scarier, but it’s a fun ride nonetheless. Come for the promise of a killer android with dance moves, stay for a fun time at the movies, complete with a SIA musical number (kind of). By the end, you might wish M3GAN was your new bestie, too.

Great

'M3GAN' is a creepy, delightful new addition to the evil doll horror subgenre, complete with some killer dance moves.