Review: ‘M3GAN’ provides fresh take on killer doll trope | Lifestyle

Review: 'M3GAN' provides fresh take on killer doll trope | Lifestyle

Killer doll movies have been popular in the horror genre for many decades. M3GAN is a new perspective on the horror trope and provides social commentary on our society’s over-reliance on technology and how it is never a solution for grief.

Directed by Gerard Johnstone, M3GAN, which came out Jan. 6, is a fun ride that does a great job of blending horror and comedy while maintaining a lot of heart. 

M3GAN follows Gemma, played by Allison Williams, a roboticist working for a toy company specializing in toys powered by artificial intelligence technology. Gemma’s new prototype is a lifelike AI doll called Model Three Generative Android, or M3GAN for short. M3GAN, portrayed on screen by Amie Donald and voiced by Jenna Davis. Gemma designed the AI doll to be a companion to her nine-year-old niece, Cady, portrayed by Violet McGraw, after her parents died in a car accident. 

At first, the narrative seems to follow the story of a little girl who has just lost her parents and gained a new friend. Throughout the film, the audience sees that Cady has developed an overreliance on M3GAN, and the deadly consequences of having the cybernetic companion around acts as analogy for different instances where technology leads to death, such as texting while driving.

Williams portrays Gemma as a very awkward aunt who was thrust into caring for Cady after unexpected circumstances. The film presents devices as a replacement for the human connection between parents and children. Gemma and Cady are not bonding the way they should be, considering that Cady has been through a traumatic experience and is using M3GAN as emotional support.

Gemma, having experienced the loss of her sister, distracts herself with work. She creates M3GAN to be a caretaker, but M3GAN eventually becomes a wedge between Gemma and Cady, an apparent critique of parents who rely on technology to take care of their children.

Donald and Davis give depth to the character of M3GAN as Cady’s best friend and caregiver. The two actors convince the audience that M3GAN is more of a person than a robot. M3GAN proposes technology as an appealing alternative to caretaking. With M3GAN as the cause of the many tragedies throughout the film, screenwriter Akela Cooper furthers the notion that technology has destructive effects on familial relationships.

McGraw does an excellent job of portraying Cady from being depressed to reaching happiness through meeting M3GAN. Despite Cady’s apparent happiness, it is only a temporary distraction from her true feelings.

The film shows that Gemma relies on M3GAN to care for Cady while focusing on her work, a critique of parents who give their children a device and call it a day. ‘M3GAN’ gives the audience insight to a caretaker who does not engage with their child, and instead chooses to take on a passive role over an active one. Toward the end of the film, Gemma takes on a more active role, but it is far too late.

As a horror movie, M3GAN does not rely on jumpscares, but the real horror is the damaging effects of overreliance on technology, which is already happening.

M3GAN is now playing in theaters with a PG-13 rating.

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