If I were to put together Mount Creepmore of the scariest horror movie dolls ever, here’s the roster:

  • Fats in “Magic” (1978)
  • Joker doll in “Poltergeist” (1982)
  • Chuckie from “Child’s Play” (1988)
  • Annabelle from “The Conjuring” (2013)

The title character of the wickedly funny, cheerfully dark and fantastically ridiculous “M3GAN” isn’t exactly in that category, but she’s the Rookie of the Year in 2023’s first terrifying movie ride — a strikingly original and terrifying creation that could snap Is your neck but also capable of softly singing “Titanium” as a lullaby, I kid you not.

This is the kind of movie you really want to watch with an audience, as the ratio of laughs to scares is almost 3:1. Director Gerard Johnstone, screenwriter Akela Cooper (with James Wan adapting the story from his dreams) and the SFX team deliver this precisely edited, tight-fitting, well-acted, thoroughly entertaining and at times intentionally campy social satire. Slice has created an unforgettable villain. ,

Allison Williams does a wonderful job of playing it straight amid all the chaos as Gemma, a brilliant and obsessed roboticist who works for the Seattle-based Funky Toy Company, making high-tech and wildly popular toys such as computer-programmed gizmos straight does the design. “Gremlins” who eats and farts and pops little pills and makes the kind of snarky comments that keep teenagers laughing.

Ah, but Gemma’s latest project is far more ambitious: Gemma’s latest project is a lifelike doll called the M3GAN (Model 3 for Generative Android) with advanced artificial intelligence and emergent capabilities, meaning it learns from interactions with humans. is, especially a person with whom the doll is associated. After Gemma demonstrates a M3GAN prototype to her boss David (a hilarious Ronnie Chiang), David forces Gemma and his team to lock the M3GAN in a room somewhere and make relatively cheap and popular tech toys. But of course Gemma doesn’t. Like any good modern Dr. Frankenstein, Gemma believes in her creation and won’t let it go.

Around this time, tragedy strikes when Gemma’s sister and brother-in-law are killed in a head-on collision on their way to a ski trip with their 8-year-old daughter Cady (Violet McGraw), who survives the crash with a few scraps and then is sent to live with Emma, ​​who doesn’t have the faintest idea of ​​being a parent or even providing Cady with a modest modicum of comfort. If Gemma can provide Cady with an instant best friend, someone who will listen to her and play with her and understand her and protect her — hey, wait a minute! Time to power up the M3GAN! What is likely to go wrong?

M3GAN is voiced by Amy Donald (underneath a layer of amazing digital effects) and Jenna Davis, and the onscreen result is an entity that looks like a miniature version of one of those unfortunate women who wears dozens of plastics to appear alive. Undergoes surgery. The doll, with a personality that is a cross between Chucky, HAL from “2001: A Space Odyssey”, the T-800 from “Terminator” and Regina George from “Mean Girls”. That’s something, all right.

Cady quickly bonds with M3GAN and begins to harbor Gemma, while M3GAN shows signs of becoming ever more independent and fiercely protective of Cady, which is bad news for anyone who sees Cady as a threat. is believed. (In one such encounter with a school bully who suddenly discovers that this doll has the ability to crush its head like a grape, M3GAN deadpans, “This is the part where you run.”)

Allison Williams plays Cady’s aunt, who lets her play with lifelike dolls she has invented.

After a second demonstration at Funki Toy in which the M3GAN interacts with Cady, the company puts the M3GAN on the fast track to production. By this point, it’s clear that there are serious issues with the M3GAN, but like all those brilliant scientists and generational thinkers who ignore the warnings in the movies “Jurassic Park,” “Planet of the Apes” and “Godzilla,” Gemma Continues to make one vertebrate decision after another, so that the film can continue.

Gemma’s colleague Tess (Jane Van Eps) has worked in some cautious interpretation about parents being allowed to become full-time babysitters for their children, expressing concerns that Gemma remembers. Reassuring that the M3GAN should be helping the Caddy grow, not manage it. Full rein. Mostly, though, “M3GAN” follows the playbook of AI creation, designed to be a friend and helper to humans, but smarter and more intuitive and independent than those stupid humans, And about it can not be told. What to do.

For all its cleverness and pop-culture savvy and meta references, “M3GAN” also indulges in tropes we’ve seen in a hundred slasher movies, but the dark laughs keep coming, and of course we get an ending. Which leaves the door open to a potential franchisee. She’s the living doll of your worst nightmare, and you can’t turn her down, baby.

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