A Horror-Comedy Blast That Will Dance And Slash Its Way Into Your Heart

In “M3GAN,” the life of poor young Cady (Violet McGraw) is tragically upended when her parents get into a car crash on a snowy road. While Cady survives, her parents do not, and she comes to live with her aunt Gemma (Allison Williams). Gemma is a brilliant roboticist and toy designer whose newest pet project M3GAN (Model 3 Generative Android) is deeply in need of a strong test to keep her boss happy. To square the circle, she pairs Cady with the prototype M3GAN AI-powered android, a product intended to be a learning, dedicated lifelong AI friend. As Cady and M3GAN become increasingly attached, it becomes painfully obvious to Gemma that something’s wrong with the prototype … with deadly consequences ensuing.

Again, “M3GAN” isn’t entirely original, and the astute theater-goer will easily be able to note the similarities between it and the host of similar genre outings noted above. That said, it’s a nice spin on the subgenre to have M3GAN as a human-sized Android “girl” pairing with the young Cady, and their interaction amidst Cady’s specific situation has a sufficiently unique feel to keep “M3GAN” from slipping down the deeply-familiar slope into the mere-imitation territory.

Allison Williams turns in a strong performance as the highly intellectual but somewhat distant Gemma. It’s a role that requires reserved emotion by design, but Williams adds strong layers and lands the part well. The MVP of “M3GAN,” however, is the young Violet McGraw, whose multifaceted performance adeptly showcases the emotional intensity of Cady’s situation. The film smartly lets Cady actually go through grief and resentment, lash out in anger, and desperately reach for support. It takes these psychological issues seriously — a key part of the film is the question of the mental health impact of letting an emotionally vulnerable girl attach to an android —  and McGraw’s performance really lands.

It should also be noted that Amie Donald and Jenna Davis also excel as M3GAN’s body and voice, respectively. Jenna Davis’ vocal performance adds a nicely nuanced element to the android, landing the otherworldly AI feeling alongside her propensity for subtle threats and growing menace, while Amie Donald’s ability to embody an inhuman, robotic being allows for some of the film’s most uncanny scares. 

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