Dir. Gerard Johnstone
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
From writer and producer James Wan come ANOTHER killer doll movie. The director who's given us a bigger doll collection than a Barbie fanatic provides an enjoyable new nightmare for cinephiles new and old.
Pitched somewhere between WESTWORLD, ROBOCOP and CHILD'S PLAY, a Model 3 Generative Android aka M3GAN, is a lifeline to robotics engineer Gemma (Allison Williams) eight-year-old niece, Cady (Violet McGraw) after the death of her parents. Fortunately for Cady, M3GAN is programmed to be her friend protector to the end, no matter the cost. Taking the modern AI conundrum of Verhoeven's film with the action of the 2019 reboot of CHILD'S PLAY, it's hard not to say you've seen it all before and yet M3GAN knows this and plays for a healthy 100 minutes of fun that begs for this connection not to end anytime soon.
From early on, M3GAN's tone is pretty tongue in cheek and while the latest killer android reaches a high body count, it's always fun and this is pure popcorn fodder. The violence notably toned down for a younger audience evidently to get a few more teens into the genre which is never a bad thing if handled correctly and M3GAN ticks all the boxes adding plenty of inventive ways to kill off those threatening Cady and it's certainly not without some scarier moments. You don't always have to see it all, and somehow becomes a cathartic experience from all the blood and misery 2022 left us with.
Gerard Johnstone who gave us the brilliant HOUSEBOUND brings over the balance of humour and horror really well and while it never stretches any boundaries it's a blast from start to end and for the cold January blues, it's just the company you need, just don't threaten Cady. Wan's story and writing credits alongside Akela Cooper (MALIGNANT) is kudos to someone with an imagination still as strong as it was with Mary Shaw and actually excels the horror of ANNABELLE series which took the world by storm.
While lacking the punch more grown up audiences would expect from the writers of MALIGNANT, this is more in line with what is expected of mainstream horror, especially the newfound audience of the PG-13 in the States (15 in the UK, but certainly on the light end) with much of the severe violence eliminated off screen but where kids are involved it's somehow a more refreshingly paced film when compared to the blood splattered year we've had. Like 2022's SCREAM, M3GAN is the first big studio horror of the year and one that starts the year off with a bang.