Slaying, both literally and metaphorically: A review of ‘M3GAN’

By: Bijou Kruszka

Warning: Spoilers for ‘M3GAN’ and discussions of murder ahead.

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A classic staple of horror films is creepy dolls. From Chucky to Annabelle, there seems to be something particularly horrifying about dolls, especially if they become animate. ‘M3GAN’ introduces a new doll with a fun, modern AI twist. But does the titular M3GAN live up to her predecessors?

Released in January of this year, ‘M3GAN’ follows a little girl named Katie, sent to live with her aunt after her parents are killed in a car crash. Her aunt, who is more technologically savvy than motherly, creates a doll named M3GAN. M3GAN seems like she can do everything, from teaching Katie about the world around her to comforting her in times of emotional turmoil. However, M3GAN’s devotion to Katie is a little too strict, and she begins to murder anyone who wrongs Katie.

Before the movie was released, ‘M3GAN’ already captured the attention of the internet. The trailer, which was mostly formatted like a normal horror movie trailer, was interspersed with clips of M3GAN doing a dance. The dance was so tonally different from the other clips and background music that it was very comedic. The clips immediately went viral, and people were wondering if this was a weird mistake or a marketing ploy.

The trailer, despite its strange comedic feeling, ended up being a perfect preview of the film. This movie is hilarious, and it knows it. The dance scene is the most iconic for sure, as it feels just as out of context in the movie as it was in the trailer. Immediately afterwards, M3GAN kills two people and leaves the building in a red sports car. But, this is not the only funny moment. The comedy is pretty consistent throughout. It opens with an incredibly satirical toy commercial for “Purrpetual Petz,” a toy advertised to outlive you.

My personal favorite moment of the film happens shortly after Katie witnessed a boy that bullied her get pushed out into the road and killed by an oncoming car. She asks M3GAN if he’s in a better place. M3GAN responds “No” and then sings a slow acapella rendition of Sia’s “Titanium” to comfort her. This film knows that it is camp, and takes advantage of it at every turn, making it a thoroughly enjoyable watch.

This movie also has a very good emotional core built into it. The relationship between Katie and her aunt is strenuous, to say the least. But there are a lot of tender, heartfelt moments between the two that make you root for them, despite Katie’s irritating immaturity and the aunt’s incompetence at caretaking. While the “woman can’t balance her career and family” trope is a tired one, this movie does a good job of proving that the aunt can be both focused on her career and still care for Katie, despite her stumbles along the way.

However, it doesn’t exactly work as a horror movie. There are 4 deaths in the movie total (plus a dog, but that one isn’t graphic and I prefer to pretend that part doesn’t exist). But because the movie is focusing on campy comedy so much, it doesn’t really generate much fear during the suspenseful moments. That’s not to say the deaths aren’t gruesome, but if you’re looking for something spine-chilling, ‘M3GAN’ is not your movie.

In the end, ‘M3GAN’ is an enjoyable watch. Its camp comedy cements it as a classic, despite only being released for a few months. It’s a great film to watch with friends, especially if you’re looking for something a little bit darker. If you’re looking for a super-scary horror movie, this isn’t your film. But if you want something with both murder and humor, ‘M3GAN’ is for you.

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