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).


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.”

US (2019)


 “Who are you?”

“We’re Americans”

A scathing attack on the polarising, binary state of American (and many other countries’) politics and today’s society or just a straight up horror film? You decide.
Commentary on class, race and privilege is on show here but never gets in the way of a good ‘ole scare.

It’s clear Jordan Peele has lots to say and chooses to do it via the often maligned or nichey, horror genre. Not usually the normal route for the passing on of opinion and criticism, although George A Romero did it brilliantly with ‘…the Dead’ zombie series as did John Carpenter with They Live and it’s attack on consumerism. Any shopping mall within the world at the moment doesn’t seem so different from the zombie overrun one in Dawn of the Dead and looking at the way the advertising hordes are after your mind and your money, how far are we really away from many aspects of They Live?

Peele delivered a cutting commentary of the deep wounds of racism and the current effects of the race relations in the magnificent Get Out and now he tackles the ‘Us and Them’ opposites of the way the country is in the uber-relevant midst of in 2019.

The film begins in 1986 with Adelaide Wilson, a young girl on holiday with her parents in Santa Cruz. She strays away from them and enters a funhouse that will forever change her. Cut to present day and now played by Lupita Nyong’o, she is heading to her old family vacation home in Santa Cruz with her husband Gabe (Winston Duke) and her two children, Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex). Adelaide is apprehensive about returning to the place of the disturbing incident from her childhood but tries to get in the spirit of the trip. They meet their aspirational friends Josh & Kitty Tyler (Eric Heidecker and Elisabeth Moss) and their twin daughters, Becca (Cali Sheldon) and Lyndsey (Noelle Sheldon) at the beach close to the eerie funhouse from Adelaide’s childhood and things take a strange turn from here.

I will not reveal anything more about the plot. I had been excited about this for a while and stayed away from any information about the narrative or even the set up.

No trailers, no reviews, no nuttin’. Recently I’ve been trying to see films with as little information as possible to maximize my own enjoyment. I managed to do so pretty well with Captain Marvel. Again, not trailers, no reading, no nuttin’. No mean feat. It’s a fun experiment.

Hands across AmericaHands Across America

There is commentary here about the duality in humans and shadow and light plays a big part, the fear of the other and the self adorned illusion that these are separate and not two sides of the same coin. This division is happening in America and across the world.
We seem to be in an “Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet” place and this is definitely on show here.

Lupita Nyong’o continues to shine and add to her stellar collection of work and it’s great to see Winston Duke getting a bigger turn and more coverage, his comedy chops are on display here and his star is also on the rise. Elisabeth Moss (always brilliant) and Tim Heidecker (of Tim & Eric fame) who owns the best named boat in film to date ‘The B’Yacht’Ch’, have a LOAD of fun as the protagonists friends and the two main kids (Joseph & Alex) feel rooted in the world, as crazy as it gets.

There are plenty of scares and eerie tones at play and the soundtrack by Michael Abel works very well with the images. Anthem is especially strong as a creepy theme. Not to mention the killer tunes and beautiful placement in the film.
Luniz, anyone? N.W.A., anyone?

Whilst not as tight or sparky as his debut, his sophomore effort shows that Peele is no fluke. His knowledge of cinema and horror films, and referencing amongst others, Hitchcock, Kubrick and Spielberg, is real and I’m looking forward to watching this new director’s work as he traverses through the map of this business called film-making.
And all this from one half of the mighty Key & Peele sketch comedy duo.
Who’da thunk it? I had 5 on it.

It’s not about drugsIt’s a dope song.”