- Katie Bell
So, I had no idea that this film was going to be so fun (despite viral dance moves), or contain such important messaging. M3gan (2022) is so much more than you expect it to be, which is a very pleasant way to start the year.
M3gan opens with Cady (Violet McGraw) and her parents travelling to the destination for their family ski holiday. Her parents argue in the front about screen time, whilst Cady sits in the back, overfeeding her Purrpetual Petz, a toy created by the company, Funki (seems like a direct attack on poor old Funko Inc...but maybe that's just me).
I scoured the internet for an image of the Purrpetual Petz, but unfortunately, all I could find was Perpetual Pets - a Sydney-based pet cremation company - so you'll have to do your best imagining today. Purrpetual Petz look like a Furby, but with a full set of human teeth. In a word: horrifying.
Understandably, Cady's parents crash the car. Now the film might have you believe that this is because the road is icy and they have no chains on their tyres and a snow truck plows into them, but I have another theory: they were creeped out by the damn teethed furby in the backseat.
Enter Aunt Gemma (Allison Williams) who for context, is definitely not a mum. Aunt Gemma is now Cady's guardian, and this film works hard to establish that she really, really isn't a mum. She has collectables, that cannot be played with #notamum. She doesn't have age-appropriate books #notamum. She is distracted by technology, whilst Cady stares at her and waits for attention #notamum. However, Aunt Gemma is really trying, and to be fair, really wants to make this situation work. Side note: at one point the judgiest therapist in the world visits the house to check in on whether or not Aunt Gemma is a mum and immediately says, "Look at you...still in your pajamas" to Cady. Okay, therapist, okay. Chill out. Possibly the least concerning part about this relationship is that Cady stayed in her pajamas after breakfast one time. #notareasontojudgesomeoneforbeingnotamum.
Now, a really important part of this story, that I've definitely neglected to address so far, is that Aunt Gemma works for Funki, the company responsible for Purrpetual Petz, and she's quietly been working on another toy for young people...I'm sure you can guess where this is going...
The first thing that I really enjoyed about M3gan is that it isn't just a mindless horror flick about a creepy toy doll with intentions to do people harm. This film addresses some pretty relevant and important social issues. Firstly, it makes a comment on parenting in the 21st century. Aunt Gemma designs M3gan (or Model 3 Generative ANdroid) to provide everything that a parent should. She draws and plays with Cady, reminds Cady of basic hygiene practices like washing her hands and even delivers impromptu Science lessons whenever Cady asks about how the world works. Not only does M3gan take care of all of the nagging for parents, she also does all of the listening and completes all of the tasks, including reading Alice in Wonderland in the creepiest (yet most hilarious) voice ever. Aunt Gemma even goes so far as to say that M3gan does all of this, "so you can take care of the things that matter". The irony is clear and although the joke is subtle, it does land. Essentially, because M3gan and Cady are the same age, M3gan can parent her, but still be a cool Mum, and Gemma can work and feel less guilty about it.
Pictured: Just two cool Moms.
M3gan also addresses the concept of privacy concerns and technology. Once the android has paired with a child, it reads and stores all of their personal medical information 24/7. M3gan tracks Cady's temperature, heart rate, blood oxygen levels and more. Creepy or convenient? You be the judge...
Additionally, M3gan has voice recognition and recording software, GPS tracking and she videos everything that she sees. Fantastic! Not at all concerning when the focus of these recordings is a child. As an additional convenience, everything is uploaded and stored to the cloud. Yay! So your child's entire medical history, most private moments, thoughts and memories, as well as their likes, dislikes and habits are all being conveniently stored by the company who sold you the toy in the first place. Woohoo for data storage! #wewontsellyourdatawelljustuseit
Finally, this film makes a comment on the dangers of screen addiction. Technically, M3gan isn't a screen. However, she is a piece of technology, and there's no doubt that Cady becomes addicted to M3gan in the same way that a child may become addicted to an iPad. At one point she begs Aunt Gemma, "Can you let me see her? For just like 10 minutes?" Somehow, when technology addiction appears in the form of a psycho android who has no issue with causing harm, this addiction feels more serious to viewers? It's clever.
Not only does this film make plenty of comments on serious social issues, but it does so with a really nicely balanced tone. Sure, this horror/sci-fi/thriller flick will give you plenty of creepy moments and at least one decent jump scare, but, there's also plenty of comedy, which is really important in bringing balance to this film. Ronny Chieng is a brilliant addition to the cast. Whilst this film uses irony frequently to provide a humorous smirk on viewers' faces, it is Chieng that is causing audiences to laugh out loud at critical moments.
Don't get me wrong, this is definitely a horror. And M3gan is creepy. A shot of her, centre-screen, and sitting at the toy table will tell you that much...
But the team behind M3gan also know how to have fun, and this is evident through all of the Skippy the Bush Kangaroo-style shots of M3gan's hands doing things. Her hands look ridiculous and in amongst all of the creepiness, these hand shots remind viewers that it's okay to enjoy themselves, whilst they watch this one.
My only regret, is that I didn't go with a bigger group of people to see this film! It'll deliver the scares, it'll deliver the laughs. Definitely go with a group of friends. You won't regret it!