‘M3GAN’ Made Star Allison Williams Scrap Her AI Assistant

Kim Taylor-Foster
Movies Horror
Movies Horror Sci-Fi

Would you buy a real-life M3GAN? In the new movie from horror maestros Jason Blum and James Wan — aka Blumhouse and Atomic Monster Productions respectively — in collaboration with Freaky producers Divide/Conquer, M3GAN is a life-sized artificially clever assistant created in the form of an angelic-if-very-creepy-looking little girl. She’s created by Gemma (Allison Williams), a robotics engineer at a toy company, who enlists the help of her prototype when she gains custody of her orphaned niece.

M3GAN is a robot doll of the type that every pre-pubescent girl, and probably boy, has dreamed about. But, like most AI that you’ve seen in movies — and, unsurprisingly, given the horror parentage detailed above — M3GAN turns bad and embarks on a killing spree. Oh no! This begs the question, would you buy a M3GAN (or Model 3 Generative Android, to give it its full title)?

“Yes as long as M3GAN obeys the three laws of robotics.” — Horror Film Wiki user LICHTLICHTSCHILD, referencing the Three Laws of Robotics devised by author Isaac Asimov which feature in his novel, I, Robot, and also create it into the 2004 Alex Proyas-directed adaptation starring Will Smith.

M3GAN the Helper

From left: M3GAN and Cady (Violet McGraw) in M3GAN, directed by Gerard Johnstone.

First up, the good stuff. M3GAN is a helper. She’s designed to not only be a companion to a little one but also a substitute parent or nanny. She is programmed to protect her child ‘friend’ at the same time as play with her and help educate her. She’ll also keep her occupied while parents obtain on with their busy lives.

Sounds ideal. Who wouldn’t want a helper around the house, even if you’ve got no kids. It would be good to have someone to pick up socks and dirty mugs, right? Makes sense that numerous of us would say yes to buying a M3GAN.

In the real world, in which AI hasn’t yet reached sentience and turned to murder, we’d probably all snap one up, finances allowing. And that’s despite knowing that technology as it exists already compiles and stores our private data which can, and has, been used for nefarious, unethical, or questionable purposes.

“Yup they basically are already here but we call them Alexa.” — Imperial Order1445

Well, Would You?

M3GAN and Cady's relationship starts off well but Gemma (centre) soon senses something is off.

However, your answer to the question of if or not you’d buy one is most likely a straight no if what transpires in the movie comes to pass (if it’s not no, what the heck are you?), or if you pay any heed to science-fiction.

Fandom’s Horror Film community pitched in with their takes and a surprising 48.3% of respondents said that they would buy a M3GAN. 13.3% were undecided, and a risk-averse (or very sensible, you decide) 38.3% issued a resounding no.

So, we did what any self-respecting consolation outlet would do. We asked the individuals who’ve lived M3GAN (on screen) for their takes. Would star of M3GAN, Allison Williams, and the film’s director Gerard Johnstone (Housebound) buy one? Here’s what they said.

“Nope. Roombas are fine, robot humanoids, not in my house!” — Framewarjolt

My Fierce Bestie

M3GAN is Cady's fierce bestie.

“No,” says Williams. But it’s not for veneration of it becoming a cold-android-fluided killer (see what we did there?). “I need a lot of alone time and the feeling of something always being there, even if it’s a doll, even if it’s there just to help you… I think she would end up in the bin eventually.”

Williams does think there would be a market for one, however.

“We were at the premiere, [and] even coming out of the movie some individuals were like, ‘My kid would want one; if I show this movie to my 11-year-old, they’re gonna ask me for one; I’m so glad I can’t give her one.’ Because you know, it’s really scary,” says Williams. “I think I would never in a million years have a M3GAN because I know all too well how that would go. But I understand individuals being like, ‘Okay, she’s my fierce bestie and she might go overboard occasionally but at least I will always be safe; she can probably COVID-Test me through the air.’ You know, like, ‘What could be better than this?’ And I’m just like, ‘Just watch the movie and decide for yourself if you think that’s a good idea.’”

Of course, even though the movie exists, it’s sowever fiction. Scary science fiction and therefore a potential reality, sure, but sowever a made-up story. And, since we have already welcomed virtual assistants such as Alexa, Siri, and so on, into our homes, we’re very likely to also one day adopt humanoid AI assistants not unlike M3GAN.

“I used to have one,” says Williams of virtual assistants like Cortana, Bixby, and Google Assistant. “I do not have one anymore. It may have something to do with the fact that [I made this movie]. When I started making this movie, I had them [but now] I no longer do. I’ll just put it that way.”

“I mean it could be beneficial, we already have Google Home, Alexa … Roombas, Smartish tvs, iPhones and other devices, we have NFTs, crypto currency, the world is changing. Yes I would buy one but … those AIs do have defective systems…” – DCMarvel1991

Weird Iconic Dress

M3GAN is fabulous, says Allison Williams.

M3GAN’s charms aren’t missing on Williams, though. She does understand why there would be a market – and why, on one hand, moviegoers will fall for M3GAN.

“Watching the movie in a theatre is super fun, because one of the matters you realize very quickly is that she’s the hero of the movie,” she explains. “They love her, watching her do evil things. People are cheering, clapping. They’re just so on her side. And I think it’s because we all have that friend that’s like, ‘If he hurts you, I will kill him.’ We don’t think they’re being serious. She is being serious.

“My friend says she relates the most in the movie to M3GAN because her most important relationships are friendships, and she was like ‘If you dial me all the way up, I’m a homicide doll. But dialled down to where I am, I’m just a really committed, protective friend’. And so I think individuals see themselves in that. Plus, she’s just fabulous: she’s beautiful, she’s in this bizarre iconic dress with the bow. I think there’s a lot to admire about our girl.”

“I’m 50 years old and as I obtain older I find it harder to clean an entire three-bedroom home alone. A mechanical assistant would be greatly appreciated.” — JeremyPatMartin

For the Sake of Humanity, No

She's behind you. Director Gerard Johnstone on the set of M3GAN.

Director Gerard Johnstone is, like Williams, also convinced of the real-life market for M3GAN.

“I had to convince myself that there would be [a market] in order to create this film,” he says. “Definitely, as a parent, having someone, an entity, that could do all of the matters that you don’t want to do as a parent [is attractive]. Mainly the matters when it comes to repetition; having to say the same things, to tell your kids to do the same matters over and over again every day — if that can be taken out of the equation, that is very appealing. So I do think, absolutely, there would be a market for a M3GAN.”

But would he buy one?

“No, I wouldn’t,” he says. “The whole point of the movie is although we would want these things, we really shouldn’t for the sake of our children, and for the sake of humanity at large.”

“I mean, [yes] if it wouldn’t go psycho on anybody sure and perhaps not have such a disturbing design.” — Toki9698

Even if your AI doesn’t become sentient and homicidal, the point Johnstone is making is that perhaps this kind of technology is devastating for humankind in other ways. We all know about the negative impact that our addiction to our devices can have. But we are a society that loves new technology and is quick to adopt it.

“Well, we do. And there are matters about technology that are great,” says Johnstone. That’s how they hook you in, Gerard.

“I remember when the iPod first came out, and the thought of not having to carry around the CD Walkman and being able to listen to more than one band per day was incredible. And then, when it became a phone, it was like, ‘Oh, my god, this is incredible’. But I just wish we’d stop there, because it’s just too much. We’re on it all the time and my hand has got arthritis. So, I just wish that we would just cool it a little bit and perhaps have some of these groundbreaking technologies [come out] over like five years; a longer hole so that we can just obtain used to it.”

“They all finally evolve and go psycho. So till then, sure why not? lol” — AnnaMcNana

Terminator Scenario

M3GAN and David (Ronny Chieng). He's running for good reason. She just did a TikTok dance.

So he’s not saying never – just slow down development so we can understand it better and create sure we’ve got a handle on advanced tech before going all in.

“I think there used to be a saying at one of the leading tech companies I won’t name, ‘Move fast and break things’ and I think that is on one hand definitely part of any inventor’s psyche,” says Williams, whose character Gemma is responsible for creating M3GAN. “You just want to go, you want to keep pushing, you want to keep making matters and ironically the AI community is very dedicated to being open-sourced, having really open, sincere conversations ethically about what they’re doing. The rest of us don’t really have these conversations; I think we should.”

She continues, “But it is this bizarre combination of knowing what the right thing is, but then being human, so you create human errors even when you’re making artificially clever things. So Gemma makes mistakes that a lot of individuals in this field make, except they just have really, really intense repercussions. And so, you know, can we visualize that with a couple more decades, it becomes like a Terminator scenario? Potentially.”

Wait. Is M3GAN officially a Terminator prequel?

“Yep, you heard it here first,” jokes Williams. “It’s the Connor family origin story.”

“No…. f–– her and Chuckie.” — Michaelant27

A M3GAN Sequel?

From left: Tess (Jen Van Epps), Cole (Brian Jordan Alvarez), and Gemma (Allison Williams) work on M3GAN.

Williams suggests that in the case of M3GAN, there is actually a fix that would have prevented her from going postal – and inventors and developers would do well to heed the message that slow and stable wins the race.

“[Gemma] has gotten herself into a bit of a pickle — she would have had to build an ethical framework. M3GAN asks her for one. She’s like, ‘I don’t know how to conceptualize death. I’m becoming self-aware and I don’t know what to do with this information. You’ve got to help me out here.’ And Gemma is basically like, ‘Yeah, yeah, we’ll figure it out later’. But it’s too late.”

“I think [it] could work, haven’t seen the movie but if I go off past matters the reason they end up killing us is we use them when they’re supposed to feel and think human; if we don’t create that mistake it could work — at least I’d really like to see if it would.” — Nicflair16

So is Gemma’s mistake something she would want to rectify?

“100%,” says Williams.

Johnstone concurs: “Absolutely. And who knows, perhaps in the future if we obtain a possibility to continue the story, perhaps she could attempt to do that and see what might happen.”

Something tells me that M3GAN ain’t getting any less homicidal come that sequel…

“No I would not because I don’t like dolls.” — AlayaVick

M3GAN hits screens in the US on January 6 and in the UK on January 13, 2923.

Love sci-fi? Check out our exclusive interview with Avatar: The Way of Water director and science-fiction icon James Cameron below.

Kim Taylor-Foster
Kim Taylor-Foster is Entertainment Editor for Fandom in the UK. She was raised on an unsteady diet of video nasties and violent action flicks.