To acquire wisdom, one must observe

‘M3gan,’ a girlboss horror story

January is often referred to as the production company dumping ground. Movies coming out this early in the year are released at a time when theater attendance is low, award show nominations are a year away, and big December releases are still playing in most theaters. “M3gan” thus came as a surprise. A big-budget Blumhouse movie that receives overwhelmingly positive reviews would rarely be released until spring. Unfortunately, “M3gan” is ultimately another sorry addition to the January movie slump. 


This film follows three central characters: Gemma (Allison Williams), a persnickety toy designer, Cady (Violet McGraw), Gemma’s young niece and M3gan (Amie Donald and Jenna Davis), a model robot toy companion meant to relieve parents of certain trivial parenting responsibilities. All three of these characters (child included) were unpleasant and stagnant. A movie can recover from having its central characters be annoying and stereotypical at the start of the film, but when those characters never change or grow, it becomes frustrating. Gemma, for instance, begins her story as an uncompromising workaholic who doesn’t get along with children. One would hope by the end of the film, in which Gemma becomes a parent and is shown the work she did at her job was harmful, some arc would occur for Gemma, proof she learned from her mistakes or is now ready to care for a child. But that arc never happens.


A larger issue caused by this character stagnation lies with M3gan herself. When M3gan is introduced, as a child-sized robot lacking a face in beta testing, she already appears creepy. She isn’t just offputting, she is threatening. And this obvious looming threat increases when M3gan first meets Cady. So, where is the movie supposed to go from here? If M3gan is introduced as lightly villainous, her meeting with Cady only occurred to show the audience what a bad guardian Gemma is, and it isn’t very interesting when she just continues to be villainous. There’s no build-up or inciting incident. The scary doll robot does as she was programmed to do. 


A basic struggle of all toy- or robot-based horror movies is where to draw the line between scary and silly. This film didn’t dedicate itself to being either. Maybe it was meant to be more comedic but my frustration with the characters prevented me from appreciating the humor, though it certainly never reached “Child’s Play” level goofiness. On the other hand, it never got as scary as the first “Child’s Play” movie. With no build-up, M3gan’s creepiness wears off. M3gan also does not kill that many characters. The kills that take place are tame, occur primarily off-screen and, most importantly, are emotionally conflicting. She kills a cute dog for being poorly trained and a child for being mean once. Plus, after the strongest and most violent 20 minutes of the movie, the whole thing falls apart. M3gan’s primary directive, to protect Cady from physical and emotional harm, is abandoned and the film devolves into sci-fi schlock. Not remotely scary or funny, and ultimately achieves very little in terms of character growth or plot.


I cannot grasp what other audiences saw in this film. If you are looking for a movie with the same general plot, watch a “Child’s Play” movie (“Bride of Chucky” is my personal favorite). If you want a female-led horror movie try “The Relic” or “Suspira” or “The Conjuring.” “M3gan” simply brings nothing to the table. An uninteresting script with bothersome characters, underwhelming gore and violence and too much girlboss propoganda that never makes the decision of being a quality single parent, or dedicating your life to your job. This movie fills me with rage and I will fight anyone who disagrees with me.

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