M3gan Unrated Edition – Review

Horror, Science Fiction, Thriller | 102 Min
M3gan Horror Movie Review
  • Release Date: 23 Feb, 2023
  • Director: Gerard Johnstone
  • Actors: Allison Williams, Jenna Davis, Violet McGraw, Ronny Chieng, Amie Donald, Brian Jordan Alvarez, Jen Van Epps
  • Country: United States, New Zealand
  • Language: English
  • Parental Guidance: Language, violence, violence to children and animals, peril
  • Writers: Akela Cooper, James Wan
  • Producers: Jason Blum, James Wan
  • Horror, Science Fiction, Thriller | 102 Min

A robotics engineer at a toy company builds a life-like doll that begins to take on a life of its own.

Welcome to Knockout Horror. Today we are taking a look at the Unrated Edition of M3gan. Naturally, this movie has been out for a little while. We actually reviewed it back in January. This review will cover both versions of the movie. It should be noted that the score received a half point boost for the Unrated release.

M3gan released feeling particularly toothless. Something we commented on in this very review. With that in mind, the M3gan Unrated Edition is a welcome arrival. Streaming on Peacock now and available to rent. The Unrated Edition of M3gan offers more gore and a hell of a lot more cursing. I will basically be adding to our original M3gan review here to factor in the changes. 

This is a movie that has been very popular so far this year. Everyone seems to be talking about it. M3gan’s dance has been trending on TikTok. People have been rushing to the cinema to check it out. As far as reviews go, the movie has been well received. I’m not sure there is a great deal to add.

Still, with that being said, this is a film that is worth covering. As a horror movie, it ticks a lot of boxes for a lot of people. It is enjoyable, fairly witty and suitable for teens. This is one of those horrors that simply delivers on what it offers. Taking cues from 80’s horror movies like Child’s Play. M3gan attempts to bring the killer toy concept bang up to date. The result is something that feels both familiar and new. Without further ado, let’s take a look. I will give a quick breakdown of the movie which you can feel free to skip.

M3gan Unrated Edition – The Differences?

When we first reviewed M3gan. We felt strongly that it was missing something. The movie felt as though it lacked bite. It felt very tame. Much of this was down to its PG-13 rating. A rating that seemed somewhat fitting given the target audience. But a rating that also felt like it came at the cost of the horror element. Director Gerard Johnstone claimed it was a conscious choice to adapt the film to the lower rating. He claimed that some of his favourite horror films were PG-13. To be honest, I doubt that is the case but it makes for solid PR. The reality is likely a desire to target a wider audience. It worked, as well. M3gan, as mentioned below, is huge with teen audiences.

So what has changed with the unrated edition and is it worth a rewatch? Well, ultimately, as was the case with last year’s The Invitation, not much. If you were planning on watching the movie again anyway. Definitely seek out the unrated version. If not, however, it really isn’t worth sitting through M3gan once again to check out the difference. The movie is about 99.5% the same as the original cut. Still, it has to be said, the changes are welcome.

M3gan Unrated Edition – Lots of Swearing and More Violence

The first thing you will notice with the unrated edition is a lot more swearing. Obviously it takes awhile to get to the violence here. With M3gan Unrated Edition, the F-bombs come a lot thicker and a lot faster. Gemma’s boss, David, is noteworthy for this. I loved his character in the standard version. His potty mouth makes him all the funnier. Or all the more unlikeable as the case may be. 

The best part about M3gan’s Unrated Edition are the enhanced kill scenes. One that was already, rather, nasty looking is even nastier in M3gan Unrated. Let’s just say, certain parts of the body shouldn’t stretch in the way they do here. A number of M3gan’s other kills are more graphic. One of which was particularly noteworthy for how painful it looked. Another focuses on what is taking place rather than cutting away as it does in the PG-13 version. 

It’s mere seconds of added content. Not really anything to write home about but it does give the film some extra bite. Again, I wouldn’t suggest sitting through the movie again unless you were already planning to. The changes are just not that significant. Still, M3gan Unrated Edition is a welcome option for older fans and people who felt M3gan was a bit too tame.

M3gan Ending Explained

We put out a couple of Horror Movie Ending Explained articles each week. In these articles, we take a look at certain movies and explain the ending. It’s pretty straightforward really. Many of these films may have obvious endings with a few questions left unanswered. Others will be ridiculously confusing. We approach them all the same and try to clear things up.

M3gan has a fairly straight forward plot. It does have some interesting social commentary, though. In our M3gan Ending Explained article. We take a look at that and break down the events of the film. It’s a huge article. If, however, you are interested in an in depth look. Why not go and take a look?

M3gan – Synopsis

M3gan follows the story of toy designer Gemma (Allison Williams) and her niece Cady. Cady (Violet McGraw) recently lost her parents in a car accident. While waiting out a snow storm on a road. A snow plough crashed into them leaving Cady injured and her mum and dad dead. Gemma has agreed to take parental responsibility of Cady. Finding herself out of her depth, Gemma is a fish out of water. Cady and Gemma struggle to connect.

On top of her awkward new living situation. Gemma has a project to complete for work. She has recently spent time creating an AI life size robot version of a young girl. Her boss is furious at the waste of time and money. He demands that she finish the original project he had ordered her to work on. An artificial intelligence pet much like a Furby. Due to her new found responsibilities. Gemma is forced to work on the project at home. Cady comes into Gemma’s office and observes her past creations. When explaining the AI doll she has been working on. Cady claims that she would never need another toy if she had one of those.

This inspires Gemma to carry on working on the doll. After a number of weeks, she is ready to reveal M3gan. Standing for Model 3 Generative Android. M3gan is a 4 foot tall doll capable of interacting with, and learning from, a child owner. It pairs with one specific child and can tend to many of the child’s needs. Be it social stimulation, learning, or even reminders on common manners. While wonderous, the doll’s ability to learn will soon prove to be problematic.

A January Box Office Hit

M3gan has proved to be something of a smash hit for 2023. Bucking a trend of January horror movies being critically panned. It has already posted a box office of over $140 million on a $12 million budget. Based on a story written by James Wan and a screenplay by Akela Cooper. M3gan is another example of Wan’s uncanny ability to develop successful commercial horror. As the creator of the Insidious franchise, Saw and The Conjuring. Wan has something of a Midas touch when it comes to horror for the masses. Produced alongside Jason Blum, M3gan represents another hit for Blumhouse Productions.

M3gan Horror Movie Review

As I mentioned in my review of There’s Something Wrong With The Children. Blumhouse are often willing to put their name to any old shit. It is impossible to deny the mass appeal of some of their movies, though. The Blumhouse name has been associated with a number of huge hits. M3gan is no exception. This film has managed to fill cinemas in a month that is usually dull for horror. That, in itself, is a massive accomplishment. This is due, in no small part, to M3gan’s effective mashing of science fiction, horror and comedy.

An Uncanny Doll

So, before we start, let’s talk about M3gan herself. M3gan, as a toy, is actually rather freaky looking. The uncanny valley nature of the doll makes it difficult to think she would be popular. While it is easy to appreciate the fact that people would desire something so advanced. The way she looks is something of a barrier to entry. Designed to look reminiscent of classic movie stars of old. M3gan actually comes across as something that you would read about in a Creepy Pasta. Glass eyed and slightly sinister. It seems clear that the design of the doll is intended to be rather unusual. Later scenes in the movie apparently confirm this. The site of M3gan running on all fours is effectively disturbing.

The way that M3gan moves also bears mention. A mix of animatronics and human acting. M3gan was played by Amie Donald who is clearly a talented physical actor. It is worth pointing out that Amie also choreographed dances. On top of this, she was instrumental in some of the ways M3gan actually moves. A fantastic job and it is this mix of movement styles that adds to M3gan’s overall creepiness. The site of the doll walking at human pace feels bizarre and unnatural. There is much to be said for tapping into that visceral side of humans. The side that is unsettled by anything that is vaguely human but “not quite right”. The meshing of styles adds much to the movie. In fact, it provides the backdrop for most of the horror.

Another Social Commentary

When choosing a director to helm M3gan. The producers wanted someone who could work effectively with black comedy. Hence Gerard Johnstone, the director of the fantastic Housebound, was brought on board. The move proved to be an inspired one as comedy plays a central theme in the movie. Acting as something of a social commentary on people’s dependence on technology. M3gan pokes fun at a generation of people passing off parenting to digital devices.

Gemma is a character thrust into a parental role. Completely unprepared, she struggles to connect with Cady. It is only through her work as a toy developer that the two find a link. When Cady shows an interest in a toy with previously unheard of levels of interaction. Gemma sets about developing something that will co-opt the role of a parent. Providing love, affection and guidance. M3gan will do everything Gemma feels incapable of doing.

M3gan Horror Movie Review

It is satirical and feels very apt given the current climate. I have mentioned in the past that horror’s need to act as social commentary is frustrating. I don’t understand how a genre dedicated to scaring people became so socially up tight. Horror movies feel like the wrong place to point out the complexities of the human condition. Still, in this case, it doesn’t detract too much from the enjoyment. M3gan is a movie that will raise a smile on a number of occasions. Be it through witty observations or straight up 80’s style horror quips.

80’s Style Horror Fun

It is in these moments of 80’s style horror quipping that M3gan feels most at home. It is very much a throwback to the fun and silly era of Child’s Play and Nightmare on Elm Street. Back when all horror needed was a wise cracking bad guy and a will to entertain. Anyone who is a fan of that style of horror should find plenty to like here. M3gan is deeply reminiscent of a more simple time in horror. A time where you switched your brain off as you pushed in a VHS tape. Sometimes, that is all you need from a movie.

M3gan is also, in parts, a total riot. Aside from its ability to make you laugh. There are some seriously fun horror and action sequences. It takes awhile for things to get going. Once they do, however, the result is fairly well paced and engaging. Cady’s dependence on the toy is accompanied by M3gan’s mutual desire to protect. This makes for some interesting chase scenes and enjoyable kills. Still, this is also where M3gan, perhaps, comes a little undone.

Horror for Gen Z

M3gan has apparently taken the TikTok world by storm. Scenes featuring her dancing are all over the net. The meme-worthiness of the character has lead to her becoming a viral sensation. This is very deliberate on the part of the production team. M3gan is very much aimed at a young crowd. This is clear from the get go. If you have ever owned a Furby, things here will feel familiar. If you have watched The Simpsons, you will also recognise references. The younger members of Gen Z are the target here, though. The group that will copy the dances, share the videos and cosplay the character.

M3gan Horror Movie Review

This comes at the cost of the scares and gore. Although addressed somewhat by the release of the gorier M3gan Unrated Edition. Marketing a movie towards 13-18 year olds means this is a horror without teeth. Though M3gan features some moments of mild tension. There are no scares and little is done with the character to make her threatening. M3gan has all of the attitude of Chucky with little of the blood lust. With that in mind, this is not a movie for all horror fans.

I actually think it would be fair to suggest that M3gan will make some viewers feel old. It is one of those movies that feels very much of its time. Scenes where M3gan dances can feel out of place and a bit nonsensical. Given the context. Other scenes feel like they were made purely for trailers or to be shared on social media. This is Zoomer horror in its purest form. That is, obviously, not a bad thing. You really just have to go into it with your expectations correctly aligned. This isn’t going to be a gory bloodbath. Even M3gan’s Unrated Edition doesn’t add much in this department. This isn’t going to be a movie full of scares. M3gan is just a fun and enjoyable horror with a few laughs. It doesn’t demand too much of the viewer if you don’t demand too much of it.

Decent Acting

Acting here is generally decent. Allison Williams, as Gemma, is fine for the most part. I felt as though she really lacked the ability to convey emotion, though. Scenes where she was talking to Cady often lacked gravity. This is particularly true when Cady is upset over her parent’s death. She handled comedic moments well, though, and is likeable.

Violet McGraw does great as Cady. Her interactions with M3gan are entirely convincing. She is very believable when talking about her character’s feelings too. A stellar performance for such a young actor. I enjoyed Ronny Chieng as Gemma’s boss David. He was lots of fun and earns a few laughs. Jenn Van Epps, as Gemma’s workmate Tess, didn’t have a ton to do. She was fine at what she did, though. As was Brian Alvarez. Lori Dungey was noteworthy for her fun but brief role as Gemma’s annoying neighbour.

M3gan Horror Movie Review

Jenna Davis provided the voice for M3gan and was entirely fitting in the role. She clearly totally understood the way the character was intended to come across. It is very reminiscent of the type of voice you would hear on Saturday morning Kid’s TV. Special mention has to go to Amie Donald for her physical performance as M3gan. As mentioned above, she performed stunts, choreographed dances and is generally wonderful.

Somewhat Toothless Horror

M3gan is not without its faults. It is a typical horror trope but the characters here are pretty dumb. Many of the set ups to scares require serious leaps of logic. There are plenty of head scratching moments. This is common with movies like this but bears mention. It makes the characters difficult to care about. Try not to think about why certain characters do certain things too much. The movie is entirely predictable, as well. There are no surprises. You will see everything coming from a mile off which is somewhat disappointing.

The 102 minute runtime is a little bit too long. Especially given the movie’s intended audience. It also drags quite a bit in the middle. There is a lot of time with barely anything happening. At least 15 minutes could have been shaved off the movie. This would have kept the production tighter and the movie feeling a little less slow. The family drama and social commentary aspects come at the cost of added dialogue. Much of which feels fairly redundant. Especially when you just want to get to the freaky robot girl going crazy.

M3gan Horror Movie Review

Above all of these issues, the horror aspect is fairly non-existent. This is not an easy recommend for people who value kill count and gore. M3gan was severely cut down to hit the PG-13 rating. Much like The Invitation, M3gan suffers for this. M3gan Unrated Edition does help a little in this department. The added gore and brutality helps but accounts for less than a minute of content. It’s really not quite enough to overcome the lack of violence fans might expect. As it stands, this is a movie with few scares and limited action. Despite how fun some of the more intense scenes can be. They are few and far between. It’s impossible not to think they left a ton of horror fun on the table. Once again, M3gan Unrated Edition is a welcome option. It is not the panacea many might have thought it would be, though.

Is it a Knockout?

M3gan is a fun science fiction horror movie that doesn't demand too much from viewers. Marketed and presented as something of an introduction to horror for teens. It has a serious focus on comedy and performs with its tongue firmly in its cheek. This campy 80's style horror feels surprisingly fresh in 2023. It's nice to have a character that's simply menacing. The movie is easy to watch and will garner a few laughs. M3gan is a fun villain and the movie represents a great attempt at Child's Play for the Zoomer generation.

M3gan does lack in the scares somewhat. This is a movie that has been heavily toned down for its PG-13 rating. This is somewhat rectified with the toothier M3gan Unrated Edition. The added gore really helps but does not completely fix the issue. The intended audience here is very apparent. The theatrical version of M3gan is a toothless horror that won't scare the viewer. A few moments of tension and atmosphere don't amount to much. A low kill count and no gore will definitely disappoint some horror fans. M3gan Unrated Edition, once again, helps a bit in this department and bumps the score. M3gan does drag its feet in the middle. Still, this movie is tons of fun. There's a sequel coming in 2025. I can't wait! Grab a few friends and have a laugh. Just don't take it too seriously.

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