M3GAN ★★

What looks like a Chucky ripoff, a welcome thing to have back in the cinema (and with a budget), is not quite what it seems. This should-be slasher is from a particular school of modern horror, and is all the worse for it.

Its closest horror contemporary would be Orphan. This is in terms of the dynamic of our ‘villain’ where projected innocence masks evil but more so in terms of how tonally dissonant this film is, and how it works against itself. Rather than being like Child’s Play, this feels like a bad version of After Yang. It is oddly a film about grief and about how technology, and AI, can replace human connection and disrupt child rearing. 

It is not about this in a good way. The creepy dynamics could be fun, heightened by the strong physical performance of M3GAN. But the actual focus on emotion and character take over too much space, and also make the horror less inviting. A fun slashing time feels less welcome but the replacement for it isn’t satisfying. It is the worst of both worlds and is lessened since by the obviously edited down violence.

Right near the end we have most of the stuff from the trailer. We get to the film that it should have been, and that more time should have been given to. Instead, we have a disjointed and overstuffed mess. The pacing is terrible, it keeps opening up plot directions and then dropping (or forgetting) them, and it never finds the right rhythm or tone.

In the end, all I could think of was how similar the M3GAN showcases were to the Project Milo ‘demonstration’ at E3 in 2009. At least that had the decency to never actually come out.

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