M3GAN (2022)

M3gan poster


When I was a child I had a toy bear that when you pulled the string on its back said “I will protect you and keep you safe from harm”. Looking back the tone and timbre of his voice would not be out of place in any of these mechanical horror films of today.
He didn’t have a name, maybe Brown Bear and he didn’t walk or talk but in 2023 we now have M3gan. She can walk, talk and actually protect………by any means.
The timing of this film couldn’t be more apt coming in the shadow of OpenAI’s bursting forth onto the mainstream stage at the end of 2022 into 2023.

It’s a tale as old as tech or as the ChatGPT version of Public Enemy might call it Fear of a Tech Planet. New technology, change, fear, embracing and relying on new technologies and worst case scenarios are rife for dramatisation and what better way to update the Chucky/Annabelle crossed with Ex Machina than for Blumhouse to bring us M3gan (Model 3 Generative Android), the latest in toy manufacturing.

Model 3 Generative ANdroid


When Gemma’s (Allison Williams) sister and brother in law are killed in a freak traffic accident she is left as guardian to their only child, Cady (Violet McGraw) . Gemma works at Funki, a toy company, and is developing a lifesize doll that has artificial intelligence and is designed to look after the child it is assigned to/paired with and provides companionship to said child. M3gan is paired with Cady in its beta state as it is still being worked on and in development, one of its remits is to protect Cady and being equipped to self-improve and adapt to new situations, M3gan starts to act independently. Anything or anyone who appears to be a threat to Cady, M3Gan deals with, the neighbours dog for starters.

M3gan and friends


There is an uncanny valley effect here, the facial design of M3gan seems to be a combination of CGI and makeup and as such looks very creepy, unsettling and unreal. The actress playing M3gan (Amie Donald) does a great physical job as does the voice artist (Jenna Davis).

M3gan


One of the things that make great horror films is the amount of investment in the telling the story as truthfully as possible that the actors can and Allison Williams and Violet McGraw commit fully. Their relationship feels grounded in reality as they face the challenges of their situation.

M3gan dancing


This is a fun ride that is not as high brow as Alex Garland’s brilliant Ex Machina nor as B movie as Tom Holland’s (not Spidey) Child’s Play so it sits somewhere in the entertainment middle and is a welcome addition to the ‘horror’ genre. New Zealander Gerard Johnstone directs this film to box office success and he is currently in talks to direct the sequel M3gan 2.0. If you wanna know how successful the film has been check out the M3gan sketch from Saturday Night Live starring Aubrey Plaza and the viral TikTok dances. M3gan has arrived.

Blumhouse released one of my favourite horrors last year with The Black Phone and the first ‘horror film’ I have seen in 2023 is also one of theirs, may they all be as fun as this one.

See it….if you dare.

“I’ll protect you and keep you safe from harm.”

EMILY (2022)

Emily film poster


Great art can come from or be springboarded by great heart-break. That’s the premise that Australian actor Frances O’ Connor delivers in her directorial debut in this semi-fictional, partly dramatised version of the last few years in the life of the great English writer, Emily Brontë.

Having seen the film I thought it time to actually read Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights and so the next day I bought it from my favourite local bookshop, The Best Little Bookshop in Town (if you’re ever in Cronulla, Sydney, Australia please check it out, it’s a great bookshop) and I am enjoying it so far. I love it when one medium takes me to another.

Oliver Jackson-Cohen and Emma Mackey in Emily.

Oliver Jackson-Cohen and Emma Mackey in Emily.

This film focusses on Emily and is held together brilliantly by an amazing central performance by Emma Mackey, her portrayal traverses the emotional landscape with depth and daring. Also starring Oliver Jackson-Cohen as William Weightman who Emily becomes involved with, Amelia Gething playing her younger sister Anne Brontë, Alexandra Dowling as older sister Charlotte, Fionn Whitehead as brother Bramwell, the mighty Adrian Dunbar (“Mother of God”) as the father, Patric and Gemma Jones as Aunt Branwell. Everyone is committed, talented and all give great performances. Being directed by an actor definitely helps the process.

Adrian Dunbar, Gemma Jones, Emma Mackey and Amelia Gethin in Emily

Abel Korzeniowski musically scores the film beautifully, at times wistful and others heart wrenchingly so. 

What is it with violins and their ability to connect to and express the feelings and emotions of the heart? Is there an instrument that does specifically that any better? Think of Itzhak Perlman’s playing on John William’s soundtrack to Schindler’s List. Heartbreaking.

The line is fine. Too much and it spoils, too little and it fails to garner an emotional response but just right….. Korzeniowski treads the line with grace and beauty.

The Brontë sisters.

The Brontë sisters.

Emily is known in town as ‘the strange one’ as her thinking lies outside the box and this is ultimately where her genius comes from. She writes poems that are lauded by her brother Branwell, her sisters and the local curate. Her father doesn’t know what to do with her and Emily becomes a teacher at a school before eventually finding it all too much and returning to the family home. She falls in love with the local Curate, William who is filled with confusion, and inner conflict and thus there the drama lies.

Deftly written and directed by Frances O’ Connor it tells of Emily’s short but passionate life utilising known events and imagined situations to dramatise her life.

Brilliant, moving and poetic this is a worthy addition to the mythology and history of the Brontës.
See it.