Over the years, the creepy doll trope has proven to be one of the most effective in the horror genre. The appetite for it never seems to wane, as is evident with the massive success of the Child’s Play franchise, whose multiple iterations of the vicious killer doll Chucky have been well-received for three decades and counting. One man who is openly taken with the killer doll idea is horror titan James Wan, who himself is on the verge of introducing a new animated toy to the horrordom with his creation of the Model Three Generative Android, better known as M3GAN, an AI nanny/companion gone rogue who will serve as the titular antagonist in his upcoming film, M3GAN, set to dance its way into theaters tomorrow.
Anticipation for M3GAN’s release has been sky-high ever since the release of its first trailer saw a dance sequence of the titular robot go viral on social media. Wan recently sat down with Collider for an interview sharing details about what inspired the film. According to the ace producer, the idea for M3GAN was born during his weekly routine chit-chat with employees at his Atomic Monster Productions company during pre-pandemic times, when they would just “gig about” movies. In one of those hang-outs, Wan shared how when the “subject matter landed on the evil doll subgenre and the evil puppet subgenre,” they realized how that while he’s often referred to as the “creepy puppet guy” he’d never really made a standalone killer doll movie, bringing them to arrive at the conclusion to make one.
While it is true that Wan had hitherto not ventured into making full-blown killer doll films, he has previously incorporated the element of creepy dolls in his films, beginning with his first-ever horror film, Saw, where the psycho Jigsaw killer uses a creepy puppet in a tuxedo to send messages to his victims as part of his deadly games. His next films where spooky dolls would be featured include Dead Silence and The Conjuring, the latter of which spurned a spin-off focused on the possessed doll, Annabelle.
In a more recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Wan shared the genesis of his love for creepy dolls, saying it all began when he was a child after he’d watched the 1982 horror classic Poltergeist directed by Tobe Hooper. The supernatural horror film featured a spine-chilling clown doll attack scene which Wan admitted “scarred him for life”:
“I would just jot it down to watching Poltergeist at a very young age. That was definitely a very influential film for me, and I saw it at a very young impressionable age, and it made a huge impression on me, and that creepy clown doll definitely scarred me for life. But I also like to say that I’m a big collector of these kinds of things. I love my collectibles, my action figures, and so naturally, the idea of making movies based on one of these things coming to life is exciting for me. It’s thrilling, and, of course, in the horror genre, it means I can have a lot of fun with a story like that.”
Wan is certainly having a lot of fun making horror films — his Saw franchise is one of the highest-grossing horror film franchises of all time. With the imminent release of M3GAN, we could be looking at the birth of another potential box-office juggernaut. Estimations say the movie could bring in $20 million in its opening weekend, which is almost double its $12 million production budget. Should the film break even for real, Wan has said that the idea for a sequel is already being hatched, which is the fun with the evil doll trope as these beloved antagonists usually have more lives than a cat. Watch out Chucky, the rise of a new killer doll is on the horizon.
M3GAN will hit theaters nationwide on January 6. Check out the trailer below: