M3GAN Trailer Breakdown: ‘Cause Baby, Dolls Kill

Universal Pictures

Horror has a new “It Girl,” and her name is M3GAN. The upcoming killer AI doll movie from horror juggernauts Blumhouse Productions and James Wan’s Atomic Monster Productions doesn’t hit theaters until 2023, but horror fans across the globe can’t get enough of her. 

“M3GAN,” short for Model-3 Generative Android, is a life-like doll programmed to be “a child’s greatest companion and a parent’s greatest ally.” Created by a talented toy company roboticist named Gemma (Allison Williams), the beta prototype of M3GAN is put to the test when Gemma is unexpectedly thrown into the role of a parental figure for her niece Cady (Violet McGraw) after her parents tragically die in a car accident. M3GAN was developed with the primary goal of protecting its primary user from emotional and physical harm, but when she becomes self-aware and overprotective of Cady, she’ll stop at nothing to remove any obstacles that threaten her directive.

Directed by Gerard Johnstone (“Housebound”) from a script by “Malignant” scribe Akela Cooper, “M3GAN” has been described by James Wan as “Annabelle” meets “The Terminator.” The first trailer for the film had social media exploding with memes of M3GAN dancing and generating “ALL CAPS” responses of excitement, but the second trailer features plenty of moments that prove M3GAN is the evolution of the killer doll subgenre and will be an early front-runner for one of the most talked-about horror films of the year. 

Let’s go, girls. It’s time for a trailer breakdown.

She’s constantly learning

Universal Pictures

Not much has been made public about M3GAN’s capabilities in terms of learning from her surroundings, but the trailer features multiple shots through M3GAN’s point-of-view. At one point, while she’s analyzing Cady in what looks to be a playroom, a screen appears, measuring Cady’s emotional state, heart rate, blood pressure, and other physiological levels. M3GAN’s “pupils” dilate similarly to a camera shutter adjusting, giving an eerie indication that she’s always taking in new information about the people around her. If M3GAN can read Cady’s emotions, this would make her a wonderful companion robot as she’d know exactly what sort of comfort she needs.

At the same time, the ability to read someone’s emotions with this level of accuracy is horrifying, as humans often try to hide their true feelings as a protective measure. Having such intimate knowledge of people’s emotions would provide M3GAN with plenty of opportunities to manipulate the humans around her. Similarly, can M3GAN differentiate between natural anxiety and fear from genuine danger? Or will she overreact in response to small inconveniences to her companion? This ability is dangerous for someone programmed with a singular mission to protect at all costs.

There’s also seemingly no limit to what M3GAN can learn. The trailer shows her correctly playing the piano, instigating a thumb war, dancing with Cady, operating power tools, scanning online databases, watching tutorial videos, driving a car, and perhaps scariest of all, correctly using sarcasm. It’s clear that M3GAN is more advanced than all of the killer dolls and self-aware robots that came before her, and that reality is what horror is made of.

Her violence is multi-faceted

Universal Pictures

The usual slasher villain operates with a preferred method of killing, typically with a trademark weapon. Leatherface carves people up with a chainsaw, Freddy Krueger has his razored glove, Michael Myers loves an old-fashioned kitchen knife, and Jason Voorhees has a penchant for using a machete. M3GAN, on the other hand, looks to be killing people off by any means necessary. As she’s programmed with the ability to read the humans around her, it’s likely that her method of killing will be personalized to each victim.

Throughout the trailer, M3GAN is shown embracing a variety of violent means. At one point, she appears to physically slam Gemma on the table, indicating she can perform hand-to-hand combat, chases a young boy on all fours like an animal through the woods, stabs a flammable canister, looks to be hanging a man, and chases down Ronny Chieng with the titanium razor arm of a guillotine cutter. There’s still the mystery of her driving a car as well. Is this another method of M3GAN’s madness?

M3GAN’s unpredictability with her murder methods makes her even scarier, but there’s no telling what other abilities she may have developed or how resourceful she could be. For all we know, M3GAN could have some “MacGyver” levels of resourceful improvisation. M3GAN wasn’t programmed for killing, it’s something she learned how to do along the way. Considering what kind of absolutely insane stuff is available to read on the internet, the options for M3GAN’s sadism are only limited by the human imagination.

M3GAN IS EVERYTHING!

Universal Pictures

Taking the in-universe reality that M3GAN is a killing machine that will certainly be the death of us all and throwing it out the window for a brief second, M3GAN’s power is undeniable. Not just the power to decimate people with her evil robot abilities but also the sense that she has completely taken over the world of horror. Her sunglasses? Fierce. Her wig? Snatched. Her outfit? Unstoppable. Her makeup? Untouchable. Her dedication to Cady? Inspiring. Her attitude? Envious. M3GAN is the moment and the future — she is everything. Even without a movie in theaters, M3GAN has inspired memes, cosplays, TikTok challenges, and a rivalry with horror’s current King of Killer Dolls, Chucky.

Even when her hair is roughed up and covered in dirt and leaves, M3GAN is not one to be crossed. She has the un-mess-withable attitude that so many people wish they could emulate, making her both an absolute nightmare and a dream come true. As the Peaches song “Boys Wanna Be Her” goes, “The girls wanna be her, the boys wanna be her, I wanna be her, Yes I do.” M3GAN is equal parts alarming and aspirational, which is the key to crafting a horror icon.

Will M3GAN join the esteemed infamous rank of the creepy characters that came before her? Find out when “M3GAN” hits theaters on January 6, 2023.

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BJ Colangelo