Meme-Worthy Robot Horror M3GAN Is A Surprise Smash With Critics

There's a lot more to Gerard Johnstone's new movie than just those dancing memes.
Alison Williams and Violet McGraw share the screen with "M3GAN"
Alison Williams and Violet McGraw share the screen with "M3GAN"

The minute the first trailer for M3GAN – the new comedy-horror film from the minds behind films like Saw, Malignant, The Conjuring and American Horror Story – debuted in October last year, it took roughly five seconds for the memes to start rolling in.

Viewers’ first introduction to M3GAN, the film’s titular robot doll, saw her busting some TikTok-worthy moves on her way to cause some havoc, quickly cementing her as a modern horror icon before the film had even been released.

But while initial hype for the movie may have been steeped in some level of irony… it turns out it’s also really good.

The first reviews for M3GAN have now been released, and while it probably won’t be troubling the Oscars Best Picture category this time next year, the critics have been overwhelmingly positive with their commentary.

So far, it’s got a 98% score on film review site Rotten Tomatoes, with critics branding it “incisive”, “a bunch of fun” and “enjoyably nasty”.

Here’s a selection of what the reviews are saying…

“Unleashed into the cinematic wastelands of early January, M3GAN was under real threat of being both overhyped and underwhelming. [...] M3GAN – thank god – delivers the goods. Under the canny, high-spirited direction of Gerard Johnstone, it’s incisive, sardonic, and totally mean-spirited. A perfect mix.”

Empire (4/5)

“[M3GAN is] a deliciously camp hour-and-forty-five minutes of frights. Sure, there’s a Frankensteinian fable in here somewhere about the dangers of letting technology replace real-life human connection – but finding it requires sifting through piles of bodies (and the occasional ripped-off ear). M3GAN, you see, is all about fun.”

“M3GAN almost feels like it could be a cult film, the sort of thriller that generates a small but devoted following and maybe a sequel or two. You don’t have to take the movie seriously to enjoy it as a high-kitsch cautionary tale for an age when technology, especially for kids, is becoming the new companionship.”

“M3GAN stands up to its hype. It’s funny in ways anticipated and not, and there is enough suspense – or something like suspense – to balance out the coy winks to the audience. The irony isn’t overweening, the doll is equal parts creepy and yassified, and the human lead, Allison Williams, anchors things with an admirable commitment to the bit.”

“Not only does M3GAN serve up absolute chaos with dance scenes, absurd needle drops, and uproarious kills, but it also presents a riveting storyline. The hype isn’t all memes and video clips from Twitter; the movie itself is actually a bunch of fun too.”

M3GAN has proved to be a surprise smash with critics
M3GAN has proved to be a surprise smash with critics

“With a refreshing willingness to camp it up, the filmmakers take none of this too seriously and the conclusion is a satisfying one, though you can imagine the sequel possibilities instantly. At its heart, in addition to other cinematic inspirations in the horror genre, M3GAN is a descendant of the classic of them all, Frankenstein, as we see the inventor’s creation unleashed and out of their control. Fun stuff.”

“There are no twists in M3GAN. There is no big surprise, nothing you aren’t expecting. Part of that is due to the marketing department, which gave the whole movie away in the second trailer. But despite that, M3GAN is still a great movie. It is fun, it is funny, and it is weird.”

“Gerard Johnstone’s horror comedy — hard emphasis on the second word — sustains the joke surprisingly well for most of its runtime: a scampering Blumhouse caper that turns out to be blithely self-aware, negligibly jump-scary, and mostly very fun.”

“Not a robot so much as a hi-tech Frankenstein’s monster, stitched together with bits of Robocop and Terminator, but cheekily enjoyable just the same. Derivative though M3gan undoubtedly is […] there are some adroit satirical touches.”

BBC (3/5)

“The film’s writer, Akela Cooper, and director, Gerard Johnstone, aren’t subtle about setting up what they’re going to pay off later. All you have to see is one shot of a car in the snow, or a neighbour’s dog, or an obnoxious schoolboy, and you can predict what is going to happen in the next half hour. The pay-offs are enjoyably nasty, though.”

M3GAN arrives in UK cinemas – fittingly – on Friday 13 January.


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