“M3GAN” combines science fiction and horror


Elise Chen, Staff writer

The new year kicks off with a rare sci-fi horror film, “M3GAN,” which features a new, revolutionary killer doll. The movie scares, not in a traditional sense, but because with the constant advancements to technology, it has the possibility to become real. 

Painfully out of depth when it comes to children, the scientist Gemma programs an artificially intelligent doll to help her niece, Cady, handle the loss of her parents. Cady latches onto the life-like doll, named M3GAN, and the two soon become inseparable. However, M3GAN is rushed through beta-testing, and things soon go wrong when M3GAN gains self-awareness. Programmed without a moral compass and made from bulletproof titanium, she is determined to “protect” Cady from both physical and emotional harm, even at the expense of everyone else. M3GAN spirals from there, turning into a modern-day Chucky. 

Despite the film’s predictable plot and overused idea, the horror aspect is able to keep the movie flowing. Fun scenes and impactful morals are woven between high-tension situations, and the movie shows how technology can be used both to help and to harm. Viewers can relate to the feeling of losing loved ones, while Gemma’s struggles with being a parent feel genuine and emotion-filled. Especially notable is M3GAN’s voice actor (Jenna Davis), who brings her character to life, her voice flitting between authentic and robotic to add a sinister suspense. 

Even so, the obvious ending nearly ruins the build-up of the final confrontation, and a more creative and clever final showdown would be appreciated. The outcome is clear long before the fight begins. A few loose threads also remain in the air; Gemma’s reasons for making M3GAN nearly indestructible and a case of stolen intellectual property remain largely unaddressed. Though understandable for a film of its genre, some characters, like Gemma’s coworkers, also appear flat and underdeveloped. By squeezing comedy, sci-fi and horror into a single movie, the directors seem to have spread their time too thin, and they are unable to fully expand on any of the topics. 

The lack of blood and gore gives the movie a PG-13 rating, allowing it to reach a broader audience. Not much impact is sacrificed in the process; with a foreboding warning, the movie frightens without the overuse of violence or jump scares. However, unlike typical horror movies, the first half is spent addressing topics such as loss and family, and viewers seeking a thrill may not find it terrifying enough. The movie starts off humorous and heartwarming, then slowly transitions into horror. With some luck, it may become another classic.