“Don’t worry, Cady. I won’t let anything harm you. Ever again.”


The inherent creepiness of a doll’s wide-eyed, expressionless gaze has inspired a litany of horror films and in any other year M3gan might have been another generic modern update to 1988’s Child’s Play, but fortuitous timing meant it released just as ChatGPT 3 captured public attention and imagination. The titular M3gan is a prototype “Model 3 Generative Android”, directly referencing the same generative algorithms that have fuelled the recent wave of A.I. products. When the designer’s niece comes to stay after a tragic accident, she and M3gan swiftly become attached, providing the film’s strongest themes regarding parental anxiety over the influence of technology in raising children. There is also interesting commentary about grief and distraction, though M3gan fumbles its subplot with a therapist who is presented as an antagonist. Whilst M3gan’s level of interactivity may be wholly unrealistic (for now), Akela Cooper’s script capitalises on the genuine concern that there is no way to understand the reason for actions created by a generative algorithm. Audiences will know exactly what to expect from M3gan’s light horror aspects. Whilst the uncanny valley is typically a concern with artificial characters, here it is an advantage — M3gan’s mere presence can be unsettling, and her unnatural movements on the attack provide body horror. Portal’s GLaDOS has evidently supplanted HAL-9000 as the touchstone for murderous A.I. voices, and her influence is evident in M3gan’s vocal distortion later in the film. M3gan is likely a product of its time rather than a horror film that will age gracefully, but for right now it is an entertaining riff on modern tech paranoia.