M3GAN And Barbarian Are Absurd Horror Movies For Absurd Times

“M3GAN” seems to have been tailor-made to debut at this exact moment. If you were to head over to Twitter right now, you’ll likely stumble across discourse over the ethics of A.I.-generated art on the timeline. The current virtual water cooler discussions as of late have been centered on the argument that art created by artificial intelligence is “the future” and actually helps artists be more productive in their daily lives. Regardless of your stance on the matter, this argument isn’t so different from the pitch made to the Funki board members in “M3GAN,” where she is promised to help alleviate the stress of parents by helping raise their children. This begs an important question — why is productivity based on the capital our work generates, but dismissed when we’re trying to care for ourselves or others, especially children?

A similar criticism of our obsession with capitalist grind shines through in “Barbarian.” To help pay for the legal costs accruing from a rape accusation, AJ (Justin Long) decides to sell off one of his Airbnb properties for as much money as possible. It doesn’t matter that the neighborhood is the victim of gentrification, or that there are unhoused people in the neighborhood looking for a place to stay. As long as he keeps renting or selling properties, none of that is his problem. This reflects what researchers and outlets such as Forbes have written about how short-term rental companies such as Airbnb have contributed to skyrocketing rent in active markets. Unfortunately, the real-life landlords of these houses will likely never get their comeuppance from a monster trapped in the basement.

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