Johnstone struck a great balance between horror and comedy with “Housebound,” and continued it with “M3GAN,” a movie that offsets its most violent and unsettling scenes with moments in which the titular android does a hair-twirling dance or breaks into spontaneous song. “If I was going to do this,” Johnstone says about the lesson he learned from “Shaun of the Dead,” “I had to treat the horror as seriously as I did the comedy.”
While Wright’s film is perhaps the quintessential horror comedy of the 21st century to date, Johnstone also name-drops a few other greats that he considers fun horror touchstones. “I’m a big fan of Sam Raimi, ‘Drag Me to Hell’ and ‘The Evil Dead’ trilogy,” he tells /Film. He also commends Wes Craven, plus the “very deadpan” films of Joel and Ethan Coen, which he says employ “just a very dry tone, but you can tell they’re secretly making comedies.”
Plenty of that humor shines through in “M3GAN,” a movie that keeps its humor just below the surface of its horror in a way that feels at once campy and clever. The movie benefits from a screenplay by “Malignant” writer Akela Cooper, and everything from its android design to its lead performances to its musical choices make it a wildly entertaining time at the movies.
“M3GAN” is now in theaters