M3GAN. Toy Story [Review]

M3GAN is a horror movie, but it seems to be one by chance.

Maciej Niedźwiedzki

8 January 2023


Cady (Violet McGraw) doesn’t care too much about her parents in the car in front of her. Staring at the phone screen, using a dedicated application, she takes care of the Pet. It is a toy armed with the latest technological achievements, and its design resembles the famous gremlins (the first genre clue announcing what kind of cinema we will be dealing with). Behind the windows of the car, a snowstorm almost completely limiting the visibility, the wheels skid every now and then, the tragedy hangs on the ropes.

Gemmie (Allison Williams) won’t be particularly happy to take in an orphaned girl. Since she is a project manager at Funki, a company that produces modern accessories for children, she has no time to properly take care of Cady. The greedy and impatient CEO demands the implementation of the set goals, the competition flees, and the deadlines are relentless as usual. However, the unexpected arrival of her niece precipitates one of Gemma’s side projects, M3GAN: a self-learning intelligent doll. This is a real breakthrough and a new, powerful player on the toy market in the near future. The doll will be able to take care of raising the child, and adults can focus on their own duties and pleasures. For many parents, this is the perfect solution. Worth the ten thousand dollar depletion of your wallet.

M3GAN is a horror movie, but it seems to be one by chance. Director Gerard Johnstone is primarily interested in the tensions between Gemma, who is reluctant to accept the role of mother, and Cody, who is going through an emotional breakdown. There are psychologically complex frictions and dependencies between the two. The girl needs support and warmth, but at the same time she keeps a certain distance. Gemma likes this attitude, because she doesn’t have to put all her day in Cody’s care, but every day she realizes more and more that their relationship can’t be like this. M3GAN turns everything upside down. The despotic personality of the doll takes the parent-child bond to the extreme. First, this relationship is undermined and then broken. An adult can afford to be indifferent, and a child does not have to turn to a guardian for anything, because an omniscient toy will provide, explain and deliver everything. If any threat arises, M3GAN will reach for even the cruelest solution without hesitation.


Secondly, the creators talk about the technological invasion into the social fabric. About applications that relieve people of more and more duties, about addiction to smartphones and smart-homes, and about the possessive IT industry (with a caricature face), interfering in ever more intimate human areas. Of course, this is not a novelty in the landscape of modern science fiction cinema, but M3GAN is another very clear, warning voice. The cost of production and the projected profit are measurable, hard numbers, but they must also be ethically verified. Yes, it’s a cliché about higher values and lower values, but maybe it’s still worth reminding.

M3GAN suffers a bit from the generic and forced final confrontation. It’s a trail that’s been trodden too many times. A fictional template exploited to the core, causing yawning and not an ounce of excitement. However, before we reach the finale, Johnstone’s film is a noteworthy story about locating feelings and emotions (towards people, towards things) and a conscious reflection about going through trauma, probably in the most severe possible variants. Cody faces her once, runs away from her once. She is held by Gemma by one hand and M3GAN by the other. One step forward, two steps back. The competition for the girl’s soul is a solid foundation of the film’s drama. If it’s a horror movie, it’s really only stage directions. Anyway, M3GAN is a good proposition for fans of both film conventions.

Maciej Niedźwiedzki

Maciej Niedźwiedzki

Cinema took a long time to give us its greatest masterpiece, which is Brokeback Mountain. However, I would take the Toy Story series with me to a deserted island. I pay the most attention to animations and the festival in Cannes. There is only one art that can match cinema: football.

See other posts from this author >>>