M3GAN Review

Justin Norris
4 min readJan 29, 2023

The hottest film to come out in the supposed God-forsaken month of January: M3GAN, a film about a killer doll with a pretty solid fashion sense is here to slay its way into your heart (metaphorically and literally). Between this, the new PUSS IN BOOTS film, or even Gerard Butler’s PLANE, the 2023 version of January has seemingly been upgraded to a month of renown.

However, we’re not here to dive into this unique trend overtaking America (that’s for another article I’ll never write), we’re here to talk about the film about a killer doll. And I won’t try to paint this film as anything else but that: it’s a movie about a killer doll (specifically an android the size of a small girl) but one that more or less knows what silly horrific space it occupies. From director Gerard Johnstone to writer Akela Cooper to main star Allison Williams, everyone’s in on the joke and that knowing wink adds an extra bit of fun to this silly little movie.

Williams stars as Gemma, a brilliant engineer/scientist who specializes in making advanced toys for kids. While she delivers to her company the required slate of furry fuzzballs, Gemma, the scientist not at all afraid of the moral implications of creating a smart robot, creates a smart robot that will redefine the doll market (and also possibly lead to the Great Replacement of parents as one character notes) called M3gan (voiced by Amie Donald). M3gan is top of the line stuff here folks. She more or less looks human aside from the totally not human eyes and general robotic-ness of her dialogue and movements but besides all those little quibbles she could be confused for any other little girl on the street. Anyway, Gemma — in a bid to avoid parental duties with her recently parentless niece, Cady (Violet McGraw) — decides to pair M3gan up with this kid, in hopes of not only testing out the capabilities of her new invention but also just not having to deal with Cady’s — yuck — child trauma. As it goes most of the time in these situations, things go south.

From there, M3gan, growing too attached to her new partner for life in Cady, soon grows too smart and attached for her own good. While Cooper’s script doesn’t do much to deviate heavily from the ways in which the story traverses from one plot point to the next, it’s the little tidbits of character that the writer injects here that helps M3GAN stand out a bit and it all starts with the eponymous character. With a pretty impressive vocal performance from Ms. Donald, M3gan stands out amongst her pip-squeaked murderous peers by capturing the unnerving space the doll occupies between little girl confidant and all-knowing omnipotent dispenser of death. The creative and production team that brings M3gan to life, seemingly through a mix of dexterous actors and (maybe) intentionally shoddy CGI, does well to capture the physical non-human-ness of this doll. For better or worse, M3gan the doll accomplishes her mission of being rather captivating every time she’s onscreen. A quality that makes the “only human” sequences feel less qualified to the standard our fabulous murder doll sets.

Johnstone, who showed their handle of comedy and horror in 2014’s HOUSEBOUND, brings that same sensibility to this film, fully taking his film’s doll for what it is: a silly creation that nonetheless holds some power in intimidating you. It’s not quite a scary film but Johnstone (maybe knowing this film has a Blumhouse stamp on it) handles each jumpscare with workmanlike approach, making this robot act more as a typical boogeyman who jumps out of dark corners rather than a godforsaken creation crawling amok on civilization. Indeed, in certain scenes, it appears that the powers that be pushed Johnstone and co into creating a rather sanitized version of a much more violent and meaner film, showcased in awkward moments where characters replace a stronger curse word with an unwieldy softer one. It doesn’t necessarily break the film but it would’ve been interesting to see the crew here get to have more fun with all the antics their subject gets up to. Still, even with its restrictive PG-13 rating, M3GAN still throws a few R-rated inspired moments out there, resulting in some of the film’s more transgressive moments.

As it reached its inevitable end battle between humans and robots (albeit with one pretty awesome addition to the generic showdown), I can’t say M3GAN ever fully grabbed me. It’s well-made for sure and certainly has some character to it but at the end of it all, it’s another killer doll movie that hardly deviates from any ordained tracks set before it. Like a perfect automaton with nice design, it does what you think it will while looking stylish. That being said, I’m curious to see how they approach the sequel. Maybe they’ll add a dude M3gan…




Justin Norris

Aspiring Movie Person. To get more personal follow @DaRealZamboni on Twitter.