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“M3GAN”: A Reminder that AI Goes Rogue

As we look to the future of AI and technology, we have seen a plethora of films warning  of the dangers ahead. Terminator, I, Robot, and A.I. Artificial Intelligence but to name a few that portray the apocalyptic futures they cause. I would argue the Sci-Fi genre, in the form of robots, falls into the horror genre already. But let’s throw more murderous robots into the mix shall we. M3GAN, released January 13th, instils the fear of the murderous doll trope whilst also heightening the Sci-Fi genre by using robots. How well did the two genres mesh?

The film opens with young Cady (Violet McGraw) as she travels with her parents to a family holiday. I mean, anything that happens in the first 5 minutes isn’t really a spoiler. So when the car crashes and she loses both her parents, aunt Gemma (Allison Williams) steps in to be her guardian. As Gemma and Cady both adjust to living with their grief and new arrangements, Gemma introduces Cady to the kind of work she does. As a developer at a toy company, she’s been working on a prototype AI doll that adapts its responses to the person using it. Quite clever really. Cue the onslaught of rogue doll antics.

M3GAN manages to balance tension and comedic relief with ease. Although it does have an incredibly awkward nature to it. Spoiler; be prepared for random, creepy doll singing. Let’s not mention the moment she gallops on all fours to chase someone. As laughable as it is, there’s no way she moves quicker than just running. Suffice to say, Amie Donald‘s movements as the body of M3gan accurately portray the movement that we have seen in real life robots. However, she also manages to switch her composure into the fluid movements of evil doll mode. Pair this with Jenna Davis‘ siri style voice, the creep factor hits max level.

As far as AI based Sci-Fi goes, M3GAN can easily be compared to I, Robot in that it harbours the basic principles and protocols that are the core ‘rules’ given to the robot. The robot is then free to learn and adapt according to those rules. These days, this technology doesn’t seem that far off in the real world. It’s a scary moment seeing videos of the synthetic, human-like robots in showcases. The only difference between the two films is that M3GAN deliberately chose the ‘malicious compliance’ route. When a Robot follows it’s one main objective so closely (second to self preservation) that it will do anything to complete it. It’s genuinely tense wondering how far that doll will go to follow Gemma’s order. This is what makes the film so tense. It isn’t just another rogue, murderous robot; it’s following an order to the very letter.

The tension, awkward singing and contrast of bright colours to dark scenes, M3GAN has succeeded in creating a horror/sci-fi/comedy movie that I wasn’t expecting. Movies don’t need gory murders to be scary. Just the allusion to them can be enough. Have you watched M3GAN yet? Do you think it lived up to the sci-fi/horror genre as much as I did? Sound off in the comments or send us your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter!

About the author

Elizabeth Gant