M3gan review – girlbot horror offers entertaining spin on teenage growing pains
Cheekily enjoyable chiller where a devastated girl seems saved by an eerily self-possessed robot companion – but all is not as it seems
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. This is a sci-fi chiller co-written by horror experts Akela Cooper and James Wan and directed by Gerard Johnstone. M3gan, or Model 3 Generative Android, is an eerily self-possessed blond tweenage girlbot, voiced by Jenna Davis, a state-of-the-art toy from the near future developed as a personal passion project by engineer Gemma (Allison Williams, from Get Out and HBO’s Girls) to the exasperation of her highly stressed boss David, amusingly played by Ronny Chieng.
To be properly developed, M3gan needs to “pair” with a little girl owner; she needs to sync up with an actual human, to learn her owner’s speech patterns, behavioural traits and emotional needs, so she can be properly close with her. And Gemma doesn’t have anyone to fill that post – until her nine-year-old niece Cady (Violet McGraw) is orphaned after a car crash and comes to live with Gemma, who must furthermore honour her late parents’ wish that she is homeschooled. This poor little girl, utterly devastated by her mom and dad’s death and without any friends her own age in a new city, is an obvious candidate to be M3gan’s new pal.