James Wan Says M3GAN Is 'Annabelle Meets The Terminator'

James Wan's "Malignant" was one of last year's best surprises, a quietly marketed horror film harboring a bonkers twist, over-the-top horror sensibilities, and a strong sense of humor in an era of "elevated horror" trends. Despite strong word of mouth and critical praise, it wasn't quite profitable enough to make back its budget, but "Malignant" fans remain loyal and enthusiastic enough that the film has instantaneously become the closest thing to a modern "cult classic" we have. Horror fans have even hyped this year's "Barbarian" by dubbing it the "Malignant of 2022," a true badge of honor for junkies of the genre.

This January, Wan and "Malignant" writer Akela Cooper are back with another horror feature, "M3GAN," and if you haven't heard of this film yet, you might have been living off of social media (if so, good for you). When its first trailer launched back in October, "M3GAN” became a viral sensation. Reaction videos clipped from the trailer and memes of the titular killer robot-doll dancing to different songs quickly spread all over Twitter and TikTok.

It's safe to say "M3GAN" proudly shares the firm balance of camp and dark comedy as "Malignant" does. If you aren't sold on the film yet, Wan and Cooper spoke with Empire Magazine about their upcoming movie, and Wan delightfully described the concept of "M3GAN" as "'Annabelle' meets 'The Terminator.'"

A seemingly innocent ghost in the machine

"M3GAN" follows Gemma (Allison Williams), a roboticist that is developing artificial intelligence for a toy aimed at children. The idea of M3GAN is to provide kids companionship via a life-sized doll that will help parents struggling to achieve a better work/family balance. After a sudden tragedy, Gemma becomes the surprise caretaker of her niece, Cady (Violet McGraw), and Gemma decides to bring a M3GAN prototype into their home to make their lives easier. At first, M3GAN is sweet and attentive, determined to fulfill her promises of being lonely Cady's best friend —  things, of course, take a violent turn for the worse.

"That soon goes off the rails," James Wan explained to Empire. "I'm fascinated by things that are meant to be innocent, but become more ... malign."

Aleka Cooper also went on to explain that the origin of "M3GAN" was deeply tied to her own childhood fears and love of horror films:

"My thing was ventriloquist dummies. I saw the Anthony Hopkins movie, 'Magic,' at a really young age and that cemented the creepiness in my brain. I was a big 'Child's Play' fan, too. It was always my dream to create an iconic monster of my own."

As Empire puts it, M3GAN — before the film has even arrived — has already reached "iconic" status "by internet parlance." The popularity of the dancing doll memes is proof enough. In response to all the memes, Cooper also said there are even more surprises in the dance scene that we'll see in the full film. "[I'm] looking forward to people hearing the song choice," she teased.

"M3GAN" releases in theaters on January 6, 2022.