Sure, M3GAN Is a Bad Doll, but I Love Her Anyways

Sure, M3GAN Is a Bad Doll, but I Love Her Anyways

If you’ve spent any time on the internet lately, you’ve probably heard about M3GAN, the new horror movie about a killer doll who is already a fashion, dancing, campy icon. She’s also your new best friend.

The premise of M3GAN is simple, if not predictable. A hyper-advanced AI-operated doll, made to become a child’s companion, is developed by a group of roboticists led by Gemma (Allison Williams), who has recently taken her orphaned niece, Cady (Violet McGraw), into her care.

M3GAN is then programmed to ensure that Cady remains safe, both physically and emotionally, so she can process the loss of her parents.

Obviously, things become sinister when M3GAN takes this protection-at-all-costs to the extreme.

Image: Universal

However, nothing about the simplicity or predictability of the plot matters. M3GAN is hands down one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time. Certainly one of the funniest.

Clearly, the global box office agrees, with M3GAN reportedly earning $US45 million ($AU65 million) in its opening weekend. With a budget of around $US12 million, that’s bloody huge.

It also has a 94% Rotten Tomatoes score which, for a horror movie, is rarely heard of.

Not only is it notoriously hard for horror movies like M3GAN to get such a high rating and box office earnings, but its success is also notable because it was released in early January, which is usually a dead zone for films.

M3GAN is the first movie in over a decade to open to more than $US30 million in America in the first week of January, according to Variety

Even though I knew about all of this before I entered the cinemas to watch M3GAN, I was shocked at just how good it really is.

I’m already a big fan of horror movies, especially campy horror comedies like Scream, Chucky and Death Becomes Her, but somehow, M3GAN manages to perfectly balance the absurdity of its plot (a young girl-like doll who dances and kills) with the genuine real-world concern that AI and robots create.

What strikes me most about the film was how funny it is. I truly can’t remember the last time I laughed out loud watching a movie like I did with M3GAN. It felt like a breath of fresh air.

Sure, that might seem dramatic for a movie about a doll, but I think M3GAN gets one essential element right: it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

The script, written by Akela Cooper (Malignant, The Nun 2), is refreshingly fun and surprisingly incredibly self-aware.

Writers had room to play and fill the movie with humour because they knew they weren’t making a groundbreaking movie that reinvents the wheel. Rather, they’ve made a film that allows itself to be made fun of.

m3gan movie
Image: Universal

In saying that, the movie is actually really intelligent. Sure, it’s silly and light-hearted, but bubbling underneath the surface of M3GAN’s antics is a strong, rather nuanced wave of fear.

AI is slowly (or quickly, depending on your opinion) taking over the mundane parts of our lives. From smart homes that turn our lights on to security systems that text us alerts, AI promises an easier way to live so we can get back to the things that matter.

But, as M3GAN alludes to, AI could soon overtake the very aspects of our lives that make us human too.

What will come of parenting if we have AI dolls that take care of our children for us? What happens to our social skills if we never have to talk to anyone else besides an AI doll? How do you know when to decipher between what is real and what you’ve fed a machine?

It’s a tension that creeps into your body whilst you’re laughing at M3GAN, which makes it more unsettling.

Image: Universal

On top of the humour and tension in M3GAN is a pretty impressive level of technology, robotics and AI computing. With a budget of around $US12 million, I’m surprised at how impressive everything looked.

It’s also pretty cool to see a female roboticist being the one who is leading the creation of these advanced toys and home systems.

One of the most resounding things I was left with after I watched the movie was how much I loved M3GAN.

Yes, I know she’s a bad doll, and she did bad things, but I still love her. Call that a symptom of being gay, and my community attaching itself to a homicidal doll with a fabulous wardrobe.

Either way, M3GAN is truly one of the most refreshing movies I’ve seen in a long time. It deserves the praise it’s getting.

M3GAN is in cinemas in Australia now.