Wednesday, February 1, 2023

'M3gan': Devil doll



Dir: Gerard Johnstone

Scr: Akela Cooper, James Wan

Pho: Peter McCaffrey, Simon Raby

Ed: Jeff McEvoy

Premiere: Jan. 6, 2023

102 min.

In the movies, dolls are inherently creepy, and robots are usually threatening. How much fun it is to slap the two film memes together and see what happens!

In this “post-horror” age, when the genre is plagued with slow places and myriad ambiguities, it’s refreshing to find a good old-fashioned horror movie that’s brisk, focused, and to the point, with a relishable villain. M3gan is a darkly comic disquisition on the dangers of technology that’s immensely entertaining.

The story: little Cady (Violet McGraw) loses both her parents in an auto accident, and goes to live with her aunt Gemma (Allison Williams), an eccentric inventor. Gemma creates interactive, robotic toys, and is tasked by her abusive, pushy boss to create the Next Big Thing. The result is M3gan, a robotic doll that is self-aware and can evolve on its own.

She is created as a companion for Cady, and tasked with protecting her from physical and emotional harm. Gemma is pretty hopeless as a parent, and M3gan fills in as a companion and support system. Unfortunately for everyone, M3gan takes her duties very seriously. She has the mind of a supercomputer, and very little tolerance for moral parameters.

To tell more is to spoil the fun, but be assured that M3gan’s responses to threat rachet slowly higher and higher to and past the point of absurdity. The film’s premise comes in part from horror maven James Wan (Saw, Insidious, The Conjuring), and his sure horror hand is in evidence here. Director Johnstone tells the story with a minimum of fuss, and keeps the humor understated and steady throughout. The action is toned down to PG-13 level, with no graphic shocks and only the occasional jump scare.

The real appeal is watching M3gan become self-aware, and the bad choices that follow. In moviedom, M3gan has laready become an icon of sorts, perfect on the outside and completely messed up within. She’s not only a killer, she’s a killer app.

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