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‘M3GAN’ Review: Slay.

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Where to watch it? Peacock (including the unrated version- see note below)

Directed by: Gerald Johnstone

Starring: Allison Williams, Jenna Davis, Violet McGraw

Intro: M3GAN Review

Editor's Note: This review covers the PG-13 cut of the film that was shown in theaters. Universal has since released an unrated version of film. Both cuts are available on Peacock. For a breakdown of the differences between the two versions, check out this article from Collider.

Theatrical releases in January tend to be a bit underwhelming. This is when movie studios dump some of their less-promising films.

Also considering the “creepy doll” subgenre has been done many times over, my expectations for this movie were somewhat low. Color me surprised, then, when I had one of the best experiences at the movie theater in recent memory.

M3GAN is the rare film that navigates overlapping elements of comedy and horror with surgical precision to create a film that’s just a damn good time. 

Everybody Needs a Friend

The movie follows Cady (McGraw), a young girl who goes to live with her aunt Gemma (Williams), a robotics energizer for a futuristic toy company, after her parents die in a tragic accident. Gemma is overwhelmed by the demands of her job and has little time to spend with her niece.

To help alleviate the burden of child-rearing, Gemma develops M3GAN (Davis), an artificially-intelligent robot to act as a companion for Cady. M3GAN and Cady form an instant bond, which at first seems innocent enough. Gemma’s colleagues are impressed and hope to manufacture more M3GANs. 

But as M3GAN becomes more of an escape, rather than an enhancement to the “real” world around Cady, this child-android bond becomes unhealthy. What’s more, is that M3GAN becomes distrustful of anyone who isn’t Cady, including her own creator, Gemma.

Gemma must now deal with the monster she’s created as M3GAN’s intentions turn sinister.

Rebooting the Old, Installing the New

The story takes a while to get things in motion. Once it does, hardcore horror fans may be a bit disappointed at the lack of frights. For those accustomed to psychological terrors, jump scares, and/or blood n’ guts, this film provides a fairly tame PG-13 narrative, at least by standards of modern horror films.

Like the Chucky saga or perhaps movies like Gremlins, M3GAN is a film that can make an ideal entry into the world of horror for older kids and young teens. It’s morbid, it’s dark, but it’s also at times laugh-out-loud funny. And the team behind M3GAN know exactly what they’re doing.

Many times when horror films lean into self-aware campiness, the result becomes something downright ludicrous and embarassing. But with a laser-sharp wit thanks to screenwriter Akela Cooper’s brilliant screenplay, M3GAN slays in the best way. 

There’s thoughtful commentary on modern tech that doesn’t feel too heavy-handed, and with a majority female cast, M3GAN passes the Bechdel test several times over.

M3GAN may follow some familiar horror beats, but it does it in a way that feels fresh.

Final Thoughts: M3GAN Review

From the time the very first trailer dropped, M3GAN was an instant meme. We’ve already seen M3GAN get her own cosplays on social media which, along with the healthy box office results, suggest an emerging fanbase that will help keep M3GAN alive to sustain a new horror franchise.

It’s safe to say everyone’s new favorite dancing, singing, murderous little android has a long life ahead of her, and deservedly so.

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Matt Davis
Matt Davis
Matt Davis is a writer, entertainment critic, and content creator that hails from the Kanas City area. He has been featured in various publications, including and CNET. As the founder of Shall I Stream It? he has helped it grow into a multi-platform media outlet that reaches over 100,000 viewers each month.
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