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M3gan (2022)

Being a big 'Child's Play' fan, the announcement of 'M3gan' was one that was met with very minimal enthusiasm for what I considered to be a 'Blumhouse' knock off. Even more so when I discovered that this would be released under the PG13 age rating. Now, almost a year has past and thanks to the wonders of streaming services, 'M3gan' was available to me from the comfort of my home and now with an uncut R rated release. So, I guess it's time to see if I was right to have concerns, or if there is a new killer doll in town with the level of sass and intimidation to take the crown from the long reigning Good Guy Doll.... Chucky.

I want to start by talking about one thing I found especially interesting about 'M3gan', and that is the showcasing of the the way technology has infiltrated everyday aspects of our lives. The neglect we can often imply upon our own lives due to the ever present distractions the fast moving modern world that we live in has implemented over recent years. Aside from the obvious inclusion of an ever learning killer doll being at the forefront on 'M3gan', it does a great job of subtly making you question how reliant we have become as a society on meaningless things such as our home based IA devices or our phones and all the social media gadgets that come with it.

As for the plot of the movie, albeit somewhat predictable in nature, is a rather digestible and logical movie when dealing with the concept of a killer doll. At no point did I question the logistics of whether not this was plausible which can more often than not be the make or break situation for movies handling this type of antagonistic situation. The character relationships felt authentic and genuine, and the reasoning behind the M3gans creation and bringing everyone together feels well throughout, as apposed to the standard lazy troupe of Voodoo or some form of curse. All of these engaging elements makes for a rather well paced movie that at no point suffered from long-drawn-out moments of downtime or unnecessary exposition.

Disappointingly, when it comes to the casting, I found Allison Williams who plays Gemma, to be quite underutilised in this movie. After seeing such an incredibly haunting performance from her in Netflix's 'Perfection', I found her character to be rather one dimensional and lacking in substance. This could be down tho the writing rather than the actress but given the capabilities I know she has to deliver show stealing performances, she felt wasteful here. For me, that show stealing title without doubt goes to Katie played by Violet McGraw. As difficult as it is to pull convincing performances from child actors in Hollywood, McGraw showcases her talents to no end throughout the runtime of 'M3gan'. I strongly believe her return is vital to the success of a sequel, should that come to fruition.

As mentioned, I watched the unrated version of M3gan and as far as I'm aware, this is just the inclusion of a few minor instances of gore. In all honesty, and as much as it pains me to say this, I don't feel like this is a movie that requires it. The level of unease and discomfort that comes from 'M3gan' doesn't come from anything that would be considered traditional horror such as blood and violence, it comes from the amplified level of anxiety that comes every time the doll itself is present on screen. Utilising an exceptional blend of puppetry, animatronics and stunt doubles, creates one of the most haunting and emotionless antagonists in recent memory. The sheer tension and unpredictability of the M3gan character is something I was not prepared for when going into this movie.

There practical effects work and puppetry itself used in bringing this doll to life are truly outstanding, especially when focusing upon her facial features and expressions. There are moments where it's not difficult to distinguish the difference between the the puppetry and the young actress' Amir Donald/Jenna Davis who plays M3gan in various scenes, however, this is not detrimental to the films shortcomings, if anything it only enhanced may appreciation for the avoidance of CGI where possible. The only thing that did disappoint for me in terms of visual effects, is the CGI used in additional scenes that were added on post to give this the R rating. Personally, I think I would have enjoyed this movie more without them all together.

Overall, 'M3gan' has perfect timing with its relevance upon the horror genre. The ever looming threat of tech based horror is something that is likely to make a big resurgence in the coming years, with shows like 'Black Mirror' leading at the forefront for some time, this is a genre that is only going to expand. There is a lot here to appreciate from a film making perspective and is a movie that I feel has the potential to spawn countless sequels and go on to be the next big franchise in horror... if handled correctly. If like me you had your reservations around the being a 'Child's Play' copycat, I would say, give it a watch... this will likely surprise you.



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