M3GAN Director Gerard Johnstone Says PG-13 Reshoots Made The Horror ‘More Effective’

The trailers and behind-the-scenes promos for “M3GAN” show the film’s namesake trying to rip a little kid’s ear off, chasing people by running on all fours, and deploying everything from nail guns to pressure washers to attack anyone and anything she deems a threat to Cady’s general well-being. Gerard Johnstone confirmed to Total Film that there’s even a scene where M3GAN dishes out her brand of BFF TLC to Gemma’s neighbor’s intimidating dog in an act of violence that, graciously, takes place entirely off-camera thanks to the movie’s reshoots. However, if the director is to be believed, it’s actually more disturbing now than it was in the earlier cut:

“I remember turning to my sound designer after a re-do and just saying, ‘Holy s***, that’s worse.’ [Laughs] We were trying to get this PG-13 rating and I was like, ‘That is so much worse than what we had before.'”

I don’t doubt it. Foley artists and sound designers are capable of crafting real horror movie magic through the power of implication and suggestion. Even Luca Guadagnino’s firmly R-rated cannibal horror-romance drama¬†“Bones and All” often cuts away in the scenes where its leads are snarfing down a human before it shows them splattered in blood afterwards, allowing the sounds of what’s happening to fill in the gaps. In that case, admittedly, this approach was as much about not losing sight of the victims’ humanity as it is the unadulterated horror of it all. Still, it will be interesting to see if “M3GAN” proves effective with its own less-is-more methods.

“M3GAN” opens in theaters on January 6, 2023.

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