Lighting the way to the dark side

Image: supplied
Image: supplied
Director: Gerard Johnstone Cast: Alison Williams, Violet McGraw, Ronny Chieng, Brian Jordan Alvarez, Jen Van Epps, Lori Dungey, Stephane Garneau-Monten
Rating: (M) ★★★+


This hugely enjoyable B-movie, which has already taken on a life of its own through some canny viral marketing, is being promoted as coming from two of the biggest names in contemporary horror, super-producer Jason Blum (Get Out, Black Christmas) and writer-director extraordinaire James Wan (Saw, Insidious, Malignant).

Perhaps of more interest to local audiences is the fact that Invercargill-born Gerard Johnstone is in the director’s chair for only his second feature, handling the material with a lightness of touch and a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement of the ridiculousness of it all, while also confidently delivering the requisite scares to prevent it turning into parody.

M3GAN (Rialto, Reading) tells the story of a young girl, Cady (Violet McGraw), who after surviving a car crash that kills her parents, is sent to live with her Aunt Gemma (Alison Williams), a developer at a high-tech toy company that is working on an artificially intelligent life-size robotic doll.

Realising that she isn’t cut out to raise a child on her own, Gemma brings home the prototype doll, known as M3GAN (Model 3 Generative Android), as a friend and companion for Cady. Although they bond closely at first, it’s not long before M3GAN starts to exhibit some disturbing behaviour far beyond what she is programmed to do...

It might pay not to overthink this one (there are plot holes the size of Brazil), but the doll is an FX marvel and I suspect it will serve rather well as a gateway horror flick for younger viewers.