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SYFY WIRE reviews

'M3GAN' reviews hail arrival of a modern cult classic fronted by a 'pint-sized Terminator'

Chucky and Annabelle better watch their backs — there's a new killer doll on the block!

By Josh Weiss

The cinematic coliseum of killer dolls has officially added a new champion to its ranks. Critics agree that M3GAN — the murderous robot companion of Universal Pictures' techno-thriller (out this Friday) — is a new cult icon, worthy to stand alongside Chucky and Annabelle.

Written by Akela Cooper (Malignant) and helmed by Gerard Johnstone (Housebound), the film serves as a cautionary tale of artificial intelligence evolving faster than we can control it. When toy company roboticist Gemma (Allison Williams) makes the fatal mistake of bonding her 8-year-old niece (Violet McGraw) with a sentient machine, the blood and carnage begins to flow nonstop. So much so that IGN's Matt Donato has proclaimed that "a genre star is born from motherboards and violence."

Produced by James Wan and Jason Blum via their Atomic Monster and Blumhouse banners, the movie co-stars Ronny Chieng (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings), Brian Jordan Alvarez (Will & Grace), Jen Van Epps (Cowboy Bebop), Lori Dungey (The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, extended edition), and Stephane Garneau-Monten (Straight Forward).

RELATED: Watch: 'M3GAN' threw a hail mary at the NFL in creepiest halftime show dance you've ever seen

Head below to see what critics are saying...

"While comparison to the Child’s Play and Annabelle movies seems inevitable, the malevolent agents in those franchises clearly are dolls. The Model 3 Generative Android known as M3GAN, by contrast, is a sufficiently realistic humanoid to be subversive as well as creepy, echoing AI insta-classics like Ex Machina." -David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter

"M3GAN almost feels like it could be a cult film, the sort of thriller that generates a small but devoted following and maybe a sequel or two. You don’t have to take the movie seriously to enjoy it as a high-kitsch cautionary tale for an age when technology, especially for kids, is becoming the new companionship." -Owen Gleiberman, Variety

"This is not the morose, carnage-soaked horror of dank basements and clammy night terrors; most of the movie happens in bright daylight, every maniacal head tilt, ungodly hip swivel, and murder-by-gardening-tool calibrated for screams that end not with a gasp but a giggle. M3GAN came to play, and possibly reboot her motherboard for a sequel. Are you not entertained?" -Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly

"Allison Williams, Violet McGraw, and other performers are granted their momentary standouts (Williams anchors scene after scene), only to concede spotlights because M3GAN is the reason for the horror season this winter. A genre star is born from motherboards and violence in a movie that begs to be a tad leaner yet delivers clip-worthy 'horrortainment' nonetheless." -Matt Donato, IGN

"There are some adroit satirical touches about dolls as toxic aspirational templates, dolls as parodies of intimacy and sensitivity and tech itself as sinister child-pacification, with kids given iPads the way Victorian children were given alcoholic gripe water. It is funny when M3GAN sings Titanium to Cady as a lullaby, but is then capable of switching to snarling rage, and Chieng is good value. A entertainingly nasty film for the new year." -Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

"Its creators are so clearly on the same insane wavelength, nimbly blending camp and social satire and actual terror, that M3GAN is poised to crack the murder-doll pantheon and stay there forever." -Kate Erbland, IndieWire

"The big-eyed, unsmiling android is so creepy that there is nothing surprising about her becoming a pint-sized Terminator. And the film's writer, Akela Cooper, and director, Gerard Johnstone, aren't subtle about setting up what they're going to pay off later. All you have to see is one shot of a car in the snow, or a neighbor's dog, or an obnoxious schoolboy, and you can predict what is going to happen in the next half hour." -Nicholas Barber, BBC

"M3GAN might just become the Malignant of 2023. It doesn’t have a twist, but it is a weird, bonkers movie. Director Gerard Johnstone knocked it out of the park with his second film. It’s not traditionally scary, but it is existentially scary. As the world makes greater strides in AI and robotics, these kinds of scenarios become more terrifyingly possible. Luckily, you have the strange image of M3GAN twerking or driving an expensive sports car to make you giggle past the discomfort." -Alyse Wax, Collider

M3GAN arrives on the big screen this Friday, Jan. 6.

Want another killer doll fix? Stream the first season of Chucky on Peacock.