In October of last year, the first trailer for the 2023 horror flick M3GAN was released. Directed by Gerard Johnstone (Housebound) and screenplay by Akela Cooper (Malignant), M3GAN, which premiered in theaters on Friday, January 6, tells the story of an orphaned girl named Cady (Violet McGraw) who is placed with her robotics engineer aunt Gemma (Allison Williams) when her parents die in a car crash. Having a hard time adjusting to her new circumstances, Gemma introduces Cady to a life-like doll she and her team are trying to get on the market, Model 3 Generative Android, M3GAN for short.
M3GAN (Amie Donald, voice Jenna Davis) is paired with Cady to protect her from harm, but “friends to the end” takes on an evolved level when the robotic doll shows her true sinister nature. With an estimated production budget of $12 million, M3GAN has exceeded expectations at the box office grossing a projected $30 million opening weekend. Everyone who has worked on making M3GAN such a success is probably beaming, but one individual might not be so happy about M3GAN’s status at the reigning iconic killer doll. Chucky!
Back in October when the M3GAN trailer dropped, horror fans were quick to pick up on the similarities between M3GAN and Chucky which didn’t sit right with the red-headed doll in overalls. A Twitter beef ignited between the two characters as they traded insults via their accounts.
Now that M3GAN is finally out in theaters, a proper assessment can be done. Which killer doll is really the best? Let’s compare the two in four different categories.
In 1988, Don Mancini’s screenplay brought to life a killer doll in Child’s Play. The Good Guy dolls were the most sought-after children’s item with the ginger-haired, blue-eyed toy dressed in denim overalls, a striped shirt, and red sneakers promising to be your friend to the end. One Good Guy doll, who ended up in the hands of child Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent), had the misfortune of being spiritually inhabited by notorious serial killer Charles Lee Ray aka Chucky (Brad Dourif). The Chucky franchise has since spanned 8 films and a TV series with Chucky’s iconic look being the source of Halloween costumes for decades.
M3GAN on the other hand is a more sophisticated doll because she’s a robot and dresses classier than Chucky. Underneath M3GAN’s brown trench coat she’s dressed in white pantyhose, black shoes, a multicolor bow tie, and a tan undercoat with stripped sleeves. I guess all great killer dolls have striped sleeves. M3GAN’s blonde wavy hair and piercing blue eyes completes her menacing look. M3GAN’s attire has already been replicated for marketing of the horror film and rocked by social media users recreating the “M3GAN dance” from the trailers. I’m sure this Halloween we’ll see M3GAN costumes in droves.
Blood and Gore
Horror films are known to be bloody and gory. That’s why many people can’t stomach them, but there are few cases where audiences use their imagination because most of the gore happens off screen or isn’t violently depicted. In the case of Chucky, his gore factor has progressively gotten graphic, but to be fair, let’s bring it back to the first installation of the Chucky franchise only. In Child’s Play, Chucky’s body count is about the same as M3GAN in her first time on screen. A lot of M3GAN’s killings happened off screen though and one was an accident (although she played a key role). Meanwhile, Chucky’s killings are often in plain sight and can be rather disturbing which makes sense because he was already a killer before he inhabited the doll. M3GAN became violent due to her circumstances and in what she thought she was doing out of love.
Chucky is the funniest figure in horror to me. Chucky films have always been rated R, but the character has steadily gotten racier and raunchier in his comedic dialogue and witty one liners because the audience who have been watching this character since 1988 have matured with him. You can count on Charles Lee Ray to make a pop culture reference before a kill, or say exactly what the audience is thinking at any given moment. His depiction in the USA/SYFY TV series Chucky has brought some of the most amusing banter to horror. Chucky’s soul split into several Good Guy dolls in the second season of the show brought out different personalities of the killer doll.
Now, M3GAN has a more subtle and menacing approach to her on screen humor. She’ll give you a devious look right before she says a hilarious condescending remark, or bust out a dance routine right before making you run for your life. The other funny thing about M3GAN is how other people react to her. She’s very life-like and moves like a human. That notion alone makes for a comical depiction on screen added to the fact she acts off human emotions, and when M3GAN feels slighted you better watch your back.
As mentioned above, the Chucky franchise has some years in the horror genre. His character has spanned 34 years and still is able to remain a relevant name amongst horror lovers, myself included. The key to Chucky’s longevity is rooted in a theological concept: can the soul ever die? Since the Good Guy doll or whomever Chucky chooses to inhabit is just a vessel for his soul, he could indeed live forever and so could the franchise. The same goes for M3GAN.
Essentially M3GAN is a highly intelligent robot that was coded to be a certain way, but throughout the film she clearly has evolved in a way that surpassed her creator’s intentions. Since technology is ever evolving and practically everywhere, I think we could see many versions of M3GAN that will remain interesting. Just think of her as the technology that was in the 2008 film Eagle Eye, but with a cute outfit and an angelic voice. M3GAN could live on forever too.
To put it simply, Chucky and M3GAN are apples and oranges. Both fruits are delicious and offer a different flavor depending on your appetite of the day and we could always use more fruit. So, who is your favorite killer doll? M3GAN or Chucky?
M3GAN is now in theaters.
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