We've seen killer doll movies before, like Chucky in Child's Play or Annabelle from The Conjuring universe of films. We've also seen killer robots/artificial intelligence like HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey or the T-800 in The Terminator. Then we had a 2019 remake of Child's Play, where Chucky was a high-tech doll. All I am saying it that we've had a lot of killer dolls and murderous robots in the movies, so the darkly comedic horror film M3GAN isn't anything new. However, it is well made, and, while it is predictable to a fault, it doesn't take itself too seriously and is quite funny and entertaining.
After the death of her parents in a car crash, young Cady (Violet McGraw) goes to live with her Aunt Gemma (Allison Williams). As it turns out, Gemma is a brilliant robotics engineer at a toy company, and has created a life-like doll complete with artifical intelligence. This doll, made in the form of a little girl, is named Megan or M3GAN (short for Model 3 Generative Android), and is programmed to be a best friend and caretaker to the child it is paired with. Gemma thinks it would be a great idea to pair the doll with Cady to help the child with her grief. Everything is peaches and cream at first, but then M3GAN develops a mind of her own, and goes to extreme measures to protect Cady from anyone who would harm her, and that means graduating to murder.
The movie is directed by Gerard Johnstone, who made a neat little horror thriller in 2014, Housebound, which really needs to be better known. His direction here is very good - being playful, but just serious enough to make the threat feel real.
M3GAN works best when it's mixing comedy with the horror. For instance, the doll is programmed to sing a song when her person is sad or upset. The gag gets funnier every time M3GAN starts singing.
The performances are good, and the doll - performed physically by Amie Donald and voiced by Jenna Davis - is effectively creepy. Yes, it would have been nice if the movie dug more into its satirical edge of people's over-reliance on technology, but as it is, M3GAN is good cinematic comfort food.