January is usually a dud for horror movies. They are low budget and usually low effort, leading to box office bombs and terrible, forgettable pictures. Therefore, it is a shock when we have a film in theaters that has people buzzing. It’s positive buzz as well, rather than the so-bad-it’s-good kind of buzz. Therefore, I had to go see for myself if it really is what everyone is making it out to be.
It ended up being all I wanted. The latest release from Blumhouse: M3GAN is the moment, and exactly the moment we needed this January. With its only big flaw being the first act, M3GAN is a worthwhile one-time watch that will make a great franchise for Blumhouse to expand on and also encourage the company to go with more independent projects due to this financial success. Let’s get into it.
When it’s meta, anything goes
The biggest factor that led to my enjoyment of M3GAN is its self-awareness. It never takes itself too seriously once it kicks off and knows what people want and expect it to be. Sometimes when films are anticipating poor or lackluster reception, they brace themselves and try to throw in some major twist in hopes things seem profound. Nothing is worse than watching a film that doesn’t know it’s a bad film.
M3GAN clearly anticipated its reception and instead went the meta route. This allows a film to laugh with us rather than just us laughing at it. It knows exactly what it wants to be and knows what we expect it to be, therefore it’s going to give it all to us unapologetically. What we get is a film filled to the brim with camp, but its message doesn’t get lost in all of it because it allows us to laugh and interact with it. It’s playing with its audience the entire time.
And the OScar Goes to… the girl who played M3GAN!
Yet again, we have another example of younger actors knocking out of the park, and then some. We have another complex, kind of cold character in the always brilliant Allison Williams. However, I’m giving the credit to Violet McGraw who played Cady as well as the two actresses who collaborated in creating M3GAN herself: Amie Donald and Jenna Davis. The physical comedy of this film is top notch; therefore, Amie Donald deserves so much credit for playing such a crazed, unhinged AI android. There is a scene in which she full on runs on all fours that had me cackling and impressed that someone could do it so smoothly.
On top of that, Jenna Davis contributed her vocal chops quite a few times–which is arguably my favorite moments of the film. Whenever M3GAN broke out into song, I wheezed. On top of the delivery of M3GAN’s dialogue, the film knew that the robot was the star of the show and casted it accordingly. Paired with some more over-the-top performances from the gullible people asked to back M3GAN’s development, the performances really sent this film home after, again, a slow start.
The Dangers of AI: The MEssage REmains
Was I laughing almost the entire time? Yes. Was the meaning lost in all of it? Absolutely not. M3GAN has a very crystal clear, Black-Mirroresque message of the dangers of AI and becoming attached to technology. It also has introspection on grief and trauma with talks of attachment theory and children’s exposure to unfiltered technology for too long, too early. Whether it be Gemma’s diminishing empathy due to overworking with robots or Cady’s extreme emotional attachment to M3GAN, the message is heard loud and clear.
One of the most important parts of this movie was M3GAN confronting Gemma on messing with code that Gemma herself didn’t understand. It is a harsh reality of AI–almost every unmoderated instance developed much faster than expected. If AI is unchecked, it could turn dangerous really fast as a ‘conscious’ should not have access to all of this information. We also shouldn’t rely on AI to provide us things either. AI art may seem harmless, but we don’t know the extent of how much data it consumes and how many adjustments these systems have left before they’re out of control of the people who made them.
M3gan: Solid 7/10
While I sing its praises high, M3GAN is one of those films that will remain great if we keep the amount of watches low. I think it is a highly effective first-time watch with unsurmountable camp. However, I don’t necessarily want to go through the first fifteen minutes of the movie again, as that part was the weakest part of the whole thing. They’ve already set a sequel up for M3GAN. It quietly started production and announced itself opening weekend. I think this is the first time that a franchise is a smart move, as its villain can be in different mechanisms. Also, I want to hear “Titanium (M3GAN’s Version)” one more time.
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