Blumhouse and James Wan team up again to introduce a killer robot, ready to defend the human she’s paired to.

After a toy company’s biggest success (some knock off Furby you can control with a tablet) gets remade by rival companies, Gemma, a robotics engineer, introduces a project that’ll change the industry. At first, the obnoxious CEO doesn’t believe in its success, but after Gemma (Allison WilliamsHorizon Line, The Perfection) demonstrates M3GAN interacting with her niece, he can’t wait to reveal the doll to the public.

Gemma’s niece Cady (Violet McGraw I Believe in Santa, Black Widow), now paired to M3GAN as its primary user, is still dealing with the tragic death of her parents. With her aunt struggling to take her guardian duties seriously, M3GAN is a welcome help as she not only becomes Cady’s emotional support system, but also her best friend and teacher. Soon this AI, who’s also able to adapt to every situation and constantly learns itself new abilities, becomes unstoppable and turns deadly to protect the person closest to it.

Similar to Jurassic Park, man’s desire to play God, becomes a serious issue here. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Why give an AI, that walks and talks like us, the full responsibility to take control of its actions without establishing any perimeters or rules. Normal conflicts between human beings are interfered by a doll that doesn’t know right from wrong, while a child is being left into the care of a killing machine. It all sounds a bit ridiculous and that’s just what this movie is.

Written by Akela Cooper (Malignant, Hell Fest) and James Wan (Malignant, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It), this PG-13 tween flick misses the thrills and suspense that make a horror movie actually scary. Sure, the thought of robots taking over the world has been a fear of humanity for decades, but to label this as a horror film is a bit farfetched. The emotional scenes involving Cady’s trauma are touching, but those who’ve seen the ad campaign of the movie are promised a campy horror movie. Sadly, the trailer reveals every exciting scene in the movie and the laughs are short-lived. Those particular scenes are also incredibly short, leaving you hungry for more once the credits start rolling.

The two actors who receive credit for their work are Violet McGraw and Amie Donald. And even though Amie’s face is digitally altered to look more like a robot, her physical performance is somewhat incredible. The VFX of M3GAN are one of the film’s stronger points, especially when we get to a robotic showdown in the third half.

I’d like to see bigger studios, like Blumhouse, take more risks with their horror story telling. Become bolder and inventive. I left the theatre feeling bored and as if I’ve seen this type of movie before.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Reviewed at Kinepolis Antwerp, December 28, 2022. Running time: 102 min.

PRODUCTION: A Universal Pictures release of an Atomic Monster, Blumhouse Productions, Divide/Conquer & Universal Pictures production. Producers: Jason Blum, Michael Clear, Couper Samuelson & James Wan. Executive producers: Greg Gilreath, Adam Hendricks, Mark David Katchur, Judson Scott, Ryan Turek & Allison Williams.

CREW: Director: Gerard Johnstone. Writers: Akela Cooper & James Wan. Cinematography: Peter McCaffrey & Simon Raby.

CAST: Violet McGraw, Amie Donald, Allison Williams, Ronny Chieng, Brian Jordan Alvarez, Arlo Green, Jen Van Epps, Kira Josephson & Stephane Garneau-Monten.

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