Director Gerard Johnstone already has a hit on his hands with his latest movie, M3GAN. Not only did the film’s first trailer already go viral thanks to the creepy lifelike doll’s surprising meme-ready dance moves, but it has already received rave reviews from critics and people can’t seem to stop talking about it.
The film hits theaters Friday, Jan. 6, and follows a roboticist named Gemma (Allison Williams) who works at a toy company and uses artificial intelligence to develop M3GAN, which is short for Model 3 Generative Android. After Gemma gains custody of her niece Cady (Violet McGraw) when her parents unexpectedly die in a car accident, the roboticist brings a M3GAN prototype into their home to be her protector and companion. As seen in the trailer, that decision takes a turn for the worst, and M3GAN becomes every person’s nightmare come to life.
Horror fans are familiar with dolls and toys of this nature but there was something about M3GAN that caught people’s attention right away. The doll’s realistic features, eerie personality, smooth movements, and steely delivery when she speaks are what make her so captivating. Johnstone knows that putting her together required an equal balance of robotics and animatronics while also enlisting the help of young actress Amie Donald from New Zealand, who stepped in to do all the things a robot couldn’t do (Like crawling on all fours at the speed of light).
The director also worked alongside Adrien Morot (The Whale) and Kathy Tse of Morot Animatronics to perfect their vision and create the kind of character that would become the latest pop culture phenomenon. Complex caught up with the director ahead of the film’s release to talk all about bringing writer James Wan’s vision to life, working with Allison Williams, and all the behind-the-scenes magic that went into creating M3GAN.