Happy New Year and welcome to January, a month known for being a dumping ground as studios release their worst movies of the year. In December, when critics put together lists of awful movies; you can bet that the films of January will be on that list. It is also likely that the very first release of the new year will be horror film. This year is no exception, as “M3GAN”, a “Child’s Play” meets “A.I” story, hits the theaters.

After a tragedy, little Cady (Violet McGraw) finds that she must now live with her Aunt Gemma (Allison Williams). Gemma is ill equipped to raise a child. She does not have any toys in her house. She has only “collectables”, which are meant to be looked at, not handled . However, realizing the need, Gemma creates a unique solution. She builds Cady a companion, M3GAN, a life-sized little girl who can be Cady’s playmate, best friend, and protector. It is not long before M3GAN takes protecting Cady to deadly consequences.

While this latest offering from producer James Wan and distributor Blumhouse is not exact junk it’s far from a must see. There are positive aspects to it. There are some good laughs to be had right from the opening scenes. M3GAN herself can often be quite creepy thanks to the combined performances of Amie Donald, who played her on set with Jenna Davis providing her voice. People will certainly remember her dance moves. There is even one moment of tension.

That is one of the film’s biggest issues: ONE moment of tension. Aside from some character development problems (which may have been cut out) Akela Cooper has written another good horror script. The question is why Gerard Johnstone was brought in to direct. He is mostly known for directing TV shows. He has only one horror feature under his belt, “Housebound”. That was eight years ago. His lack of experience comes out here. Other moments that should be full of tension never materialize. Some character reactions don’t feel genuine, and you can see how the final climax is going to play out very early in the story.

M3GAN is PG-13. It is difficult to create horror movies with that rating. An exception was “Happy Death Day”. There, you had a more seasoned featured film director, Christopher London, at the helm. Here, that rating is a hindrance. An R-rating would have been much more beneficial to the final product. There are three more Fridays left in this month. January will be over soon and, hopefully, better films will be released in February.

2 Swords