The Reel Review

B+

A toy company robotics engineer tasked with taking care of her newly orphaned niece creates a lifelike android with Artificial Intelligence to entertain and protect her. But joy turns to horror when the robotic M3GAN turns out to be a deranged killing machine, in this sci-fi/horror starring Allison Williams (Get Out).

Amie Donald and Violet McGraw in M3GAN

With January known for being the dumping ground for bad movies – in particular, horror – M3GAN is a rare gem: a hilariously campy horror/thriller that totally is in on the joke, knocking out hysterical one-liners as frequently as it knocks off its villains. Director Gerard Johnstone (Housebound)  somehow maintains a kid-friendly PG-13 rating while revealing that our sentient little killing machine is a bloodthirsty psycho – a creepy mashup of The Terminator, Chucky and Mean Girls’ Regina George – just armed with killer dance moves and the occasional nail gun.

Violet McGraw, Amie Donald and Allison Williams in M3GAN

The only minor downside is that the film is completely predictable. When the vile school bully, the rotten next-door neighbor, or the loathsome toy company CEO shows up alone, you know M3GAN is about to get busy. Williams is great fun as the socially awkward, digital-age Dr. Frankenstein who finally learns how to parent, as is Violet McGraw (Doctor Sleep, The Haunting of Hill House) as her technology-addicted niece who epically loses her shit when her precious M3GAN is taken from her. The film’s cautionary message, about the dangers of letting technology substitute for parenting, is a timely one. Put down those smartphones!

REEL FACTS

Amie Donald with her movement trainers Jed Brophy and Luke Hawker and right, Jenna Davis

• In the film, the villainous M3GAN is played by actresses Amie Donald, who trained to capture the android’s movements, and Jenna Davis, who provided M3GAN’s voice. Visual effects artists gave M3GAN its oversized eyes and smooth doll-like skin.

• M3GAN screenwriter Akela Cooper also wrote 2021’s Malignant and the upcoming horror/thriller, The Nun 2.

• Universal Studios reportedly is already planning a sequel.

 

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