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M3GAN: A New Star In The Killer Doll Horror Genre

10/24/2022 • 4 min read

(Updated 12/07/2022)

Just when you thought it was safe to play with dolls again, along comes M3GAN. The title character of the new horror film produced by genre master James Wan is the latest in a long line of creepy killer dolls. From Chucky to Annabelle, these tiny cinematic psychopaths have turned child’s play into an actual nightmare, but there are a few things that set M3GAN apart from her predecessors.

You might have seen memes of this doll dancing in an undeniably creepy manner, but there's more going on than just smooth moves. Let's take a closer look at M3GAN, how she fits into the legacy of killer doll movies, and why she’s already become something of a cult phenomenon.

Meet M3GAN

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So who—or what—is M3GAN, exactly? Her name stands for Model 3 Generative Android, and in the movie, she’s the invention of Gemma, a skilled roboticist played by Allison Williams (GET OUT). Using advanced artificial intelligence, Gemma created M3GAN to be more than a child’s best friend. As she puts it in the trailer seen above, M3GAN is a child’s greatest companion and a parent’s greatest ally.

When her recently orphaned niece Katie (newcomer Violet McGraw) shows up on Gemma’s doorstep, she decides it’s the perfect scenario to test M3GAN’s abilities. Unfortunately, the lifelike android, who eerily looks a lot like her creator, becomes a little too protective towards Katie. In fact, she’s ready to kill anyone who makes her new best friend unhappy.

Continuing a Chilling Legacy

M3GAN is the latest addition to the horror sub-genre of creepy doll movies, the most famous of which is, of course, CHILD’S PLAY. The CHILD’S PLAY franchise is still very much active with a hit Syfy TV series (now in its second season), as well as the recent movie reboot starring Aubrey Plaza. That reboot (which is better than it was given credit for initially) is a good jumping-off point for M3GAN, since it features a tech-enabled doll that wants to keep a human best friend happy.

Although far from the first, Chucky was undoubtedly the most famous killer doll for decades until a trio of creepy comrades arrived on the scene. There’s Brahms, the eerie porcelain doll from THE BOY and BRAHMS: THE BOY II, whose origins are best left explained by a delightful twist in the first film.

And M3GAN is far from the first creepy doll movie by producer James Wan. A scary puppet named Billy figured prominently in Wan’s debut feature, SAW, and an even scarier puppet—a ventriloquist’s dummy, to be exact—was at the center of his 2007 horror film, DEAD SILENCE.

Wan also introduced audiences to Annabelle, the demonically possessed doll who made her first appearance in 2013’s THE CONJURING before being the center of attention in a self-titled spinoff and a prequel, ANNABELLE: CREATION. Creepier still is the fact that Annabelle is based on an allegedly true story, and that the actual doll (which is a much less creepy Raggedy Ann toy) is kept in a case in the museum of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren.

A New Cult Phenomenon

M3GAN is not based on an actual doll, but she's already having an effect on the real world. The movie's first trailer has already begun to build a surprising fanbase. In that footage, M3GAN proves that she’s more than just a creepy doll—she’s kind of a legend. As an advanced android, she represents our uneasy relationship with artificial intelligence, which is arguably more disturbing than wielding knives and nail guns (she does that, too). But she really slays when she shows off her incredible dance moves.

Wait, dance moves?! Yes, dance moves. That’s why M3GAN has already become a cult phenomenon. She’s a killer android with the looks of an American Girl doll, the bloodthirst of Chucky, and the dance choreography of Sia. There’s a self-awareness and campiness to the trailer that makes M3GAN seem really fun. That isn't too surprising, considering the movie is written by Akela Cooper, who previously collaborated with Wan on the campy horror hit MALIGNANT. If M3GAN is even half as entertaining as that film, we’re in for a scary good time.

 

M3GAN opens on January 6.

 

All images courtesy of Universal Pictures.

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