Megan is a whole lot of campy fun
While Megan definitely is a humorous horror venture, to call it a horror-comedy would be impolite.
Before finally making it to the streaming platform, Megan attained blockbuster status in movie theatres. It isn’t hard to see why. Gerard Johnstone’s horror film is so domesticated it feels like the eerie aura is right in our homes.
The last time I felt so close to the horror on screen was when I watched Ram Gopal Varma’s Bhoot and more recently the Malayalam film Bhoothakaalam. To a large extent, both these films depended on the lighting to generate fear. The fear in Megan comes from normal surfaces and conversations. There is no simulated lighting to suggest a sense of foreboding.
An annoying neighbour walks her dog which soon goes missing. When we know what has happened to the canine, and whodunit, there is no surprise , and yet there is a throbbing tangible terror, not explainable in any cinematic sense. But it’s there. We can feel it.
It all starts when little Cady’s parents are killed in a freak road accident. Cady must now stay with her stiff upper-lipped aunt Gemma (Alison Williams, not powerful enough in her tough part a working woman facing a demoniacal domestic crisis). Ironically Gemma is into toy manufacturing.
Gemma Aunty who is more into her research on her computer than her grieving lonely niece brings home a human-sized doll which actually talks back when the child talks to her.
The rest is pretty much on the predictable path. And yet so out of the routine horror tropes it feels like something we’ve never seen before. Full marks to the actress playing Megan the deadly doll. Amie Donald appears so human and yet so chilling in her otherworldliness, as if she belongs to another time and space and yet is, for the moment, very much fate’s most frightening ally.
The film is hurriedly paced, as though running out of time. Once the evil underbelly of Megan’s personality is established, I found the corpses piling up too quickly. There is a distinct difference in the pace and rhythm between the earlier and later portions of the narrative as if it was all planned, which it probably was.
While Megan definitely is a humorous horror venture, to call it a horror-comedy would be impolite. For all its surface gleam—and this a very polished product — Megan aims to make a statement on loneliness, companionship, loyalty and possessiveness. It kills it with its rock-solid storytelling.
There is never a moment of hesitation in the Chucky-meets-Samantha (from the film Her) swish-ahead. Megan is a far more sophisticated work than the theme suggests. We know the terror-doll theme has been bludgeoned to death. But the doll here taps into her human companions’ loneliness with such gentle finesse, we are left wondering, is she really as evil as she is shown to be. Perhaps Megan 2 will answer those questions that this film has no time or patience for.
Oscillating between the tender and the terrifying Megan serves up a dish that’s a cross between junk food and cuisine.
Subhash K Jha is a Patna-based journalist. He has been writing about Bollywood for long enough to know the industry inside out.
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