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“M3GAN,” directed by Gerard Johnstone, depicts an inventor at a toy company, Gemma (Allison Williams), creating a doll with artificial intelligence, the titular M3GAN. M3GAN is brought to life by two actresses, with the physical performance for the character being done by Amie Donald and the voice work being done by Jenna Davis. M3GAN is initially meant to help care for Gemma’s niece, Cady (Violet McGraw), who falls under Gemma’s care after the death of her parents. However, as the film progresses, M3GAN’s programming goes haywire, causing the character to go on a killing spree.
Thanks, in large part, to a clever script from Akela Cooper, “M3GAN” is entertaining throughout, as both the film and its titular character successfully alternates between being scary, funny and even heartfelt. This contributes to the unpredictability of M3GAN, which causes her to be a menacing and compelling villain, who immediately joins the ranks of other iconic horror villains.
The film’s approach to the creation of M3GAN is also notable, as it initially portrays her creation with a sense of wonder and as a scientific feat, before showing the horrors that she is capable of. This portrayal of scientific discovery is comparable to the depiction of science in film franchises such as “Jurassic Park” and “Terminator.” Once the flaws in M3GAN’s programming begin to show, a race against the clock begins as Gemma tries to protect Cady and the world from her creation. This culminates in an outstanding conclusion for the film, which caused the audience to applaud multiple times during the film’s finale during my viewing of the film.
While M3GAN is undeniably the star of the show, both Allison Williams and Violet McGraw give strong performances. Williams’ Gemma is a complex character, due to her drive for scientific discovery and her struggle to balance caring for McGraw’s Cady with her work. While being the creator of M3GAN could have doomed Williams’ Gemma to be disliked by audiences, Williams’ performance overcomes this hurdle. Her performance successfully conveys the character’s genuine passion for innovation and discovery, allowing the audience to empathize with her grave mistake in creating the movie’s villain. Likewise, Williams’ performance also shows that while she struggles to care for Cady, Gemma still clearly loves and wants the best for her.
Just as with Williams’ Gemma, Violet McGraw’s Cady also features complexities that could have caused her to come across as unlikeable. This is due to the character being troubled by the death of her parents and latching on to M3GAN, causing her to lash out at points in the film. However, thanks to McGraw’s strong performance, Cady remains a sympathetic character throughout the film.
The relationship between Williams’ Gemma and McGraws’ Cady is the beating heart of the film, which stands out even in the shadow of the film’s uncanny villain. Overall, “M3GAN” is a crowd-pleasing horror-comedy that truly stands out thanks to its spine-tingling modern villain, clever script and strong performances from Williams and McGraw.
By Ryan Abraham