“M3GAN:” A Questionable Robotic Companion


Courtesy of Ivana Odiah

Most films that are marketed under the category of horror are characteristic of pools of blood, shrieks, jump scares, and a chilling soundtrack. In other words, most horror movies should be horrifying. If that is the case, then M3GAN, directed by Gerard Johnstone and released on January 12, completely changed the definition of a horror movie.  

The film opens with a young girl, Cady (Violet McGraw), en route to a ski trip with her parents; unfortunately, a snowplow crashes into their car, and both of Cady’s parents die. Now under the care of her tech genius Aunt Gemma (Allison Williams), Cady finds solace in Gemma’s newest project, a lifelike robotic doll named M3GAN (Amie Donald, voiced by Jenna Davis).  

As the plot progressed, I was constantly not on the edge of my seat. Out of fear? No. Out of suspense? Yes. However, the suspense I felt was not waiting for the next jump scare. Rather, I was waiting for the sheer stupidity of whatever the writers of the script would have in store for the viewer next.  

M3GAN brought me to genuine tears of laughter. I was howling in Auditorium 2 of Regal on a Saturday night. This script was clearly written by a millennial who had no scope of how young children genuinely speak or think, which made watching the film as a teenager ten times more hilarious.  

Even so, the cheesy writing of the script somehow made it appealing to a younger audience. Many aspects of the plot appealed to key components of life for teenagers, even ones that extended into our early childhood. Funki’s Perpetual Petz are a direct parallel to the popular toy of the 2010s, Furbys.  

The film had a great emphasis on the dangers of technology, which is prevalent to a generation dubbed the nickname “screenagers.” Even so, the way the film went about explaining these dangers could have made viewers laugh in the face of M3GAN herself. I could not tell you the last time I myself made a TikTok, so watching M3GAN and eight-year-old Cady learn dances together was maybe the most horrifying aspect of the entire film. It was not horrifying because of how inaccurate it was, but rather horrifying because of how realistic it is. Children are becoming more active on social media at a significantly younger age than their seniors. Although the overall film was stupid, interesting questions were posed throughout the movie. Is artificial intelligence becoming too powerful? Does it have both the power and potential to overthrow humanity itself?  

Well, if all AI has the power of M3GAN, then yes. Her lifelike features make her seem human, even trusting. Her childlike appearance makes her appealing and persuasive. The demonic robot even develops a personality of her own, a personality so real that Cady becomes emotionally attached to M3GAN.  

Cady’s attachment grows to the point where she refuses to go anywhere without her new best friend, which is most certainly a reference to the attachment that teenagers have with their cell phones. Despite the film’s overall satirical tone, there were deep and thought-provoking parallels to society.  

M3GAN had a healthy mix of classic cliches and unpredictability throughout. As soon as a character (or pet) in the film put the safety of Cady in jeopardy, M3GAN was always right there to “save the day.” Celia (Lori Dungey) and her dog Chewy’s perpetually cold attitudes set even Gemma off, but M3GAN is the one who devises her secret solution. The unpredictability came into play with some of the oddest plot twists I’ve ever seen, such as M3GAN randomly singing “Titanium” by Sia; I didn’t know I purchased tickets for a musical! At Funki’s corporate office later in the movie when M3GAN is about to be revealed to the general public, her weapon of choice was questionable: the blade from a paper cutter. Any confusion I felt while watching the movie changed from “what is going on?” confusion, but rather “why am I still watching this?”  

After the two-hour runtime had ended, I exited with a smile on my face. Against all odds, I had genuinely enjoyed the movie! It is not often that I find a film anymore that deviates so much from its coming attractions and commercials, then makes me laugh, cry, jump, and scream, all at the same time.