New horror movie M3GAN needed reshoots to land PG-13 rating

The antagonist in new horror movie M3GAN.Universal Pictures

The director of new horror movie M3GAN has revealed that the film needed reshoots to drop from an R-rating to PG-13, and that Sam Raimi’s Drag Me to Hell inspired the cuts.

With a brilliant trailer that has inspired countless memes, M3GAN finally hits U.S. screens this week.

The film revolves around an AI doll, with the official synopsis as follows: “M3GAN is a marvel of artificial intelligence, a life-like doll programmed to be a child’s greatest companion and a parent’s greatest ally. Designed by brilliant toy-company roboticist Gemma, M3GAN can listen and watch and learn as she becomes friend and teacher, playmate and protector, for the child she is bonded to.

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“When Gemma suddenly becomes the caretaker of her orphaned 8-year-old niece, Cady, Gemma’s unsure and unprepared to be a parent. Under intense pressure at work, Gemma decides to pair her M3GAN prototype with Cady in an attempt to resolve both problems – a decision that will have unimaginable consequences.”

How Drag Me to Hell inspired M3GAN trims

Speaking to Total Film, M3GAN director Gerard Johnston said: “Making it PG-13 was something that happened after the fact, but it was always so close to PG-13 anyway.

“It seemed kind of a mistake not to embrace it. I even remember thinking early on, ‘This could be PG-13, and some of my favorite films like Drag Me to Hell are PG-13.’ So we made the decision to go PG-13 and actually reshot a couple of things.

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“What I was really stoked about is that when we reshot those scenes, they were more effective. It’s like ‘Yes, you do have to cut away at certain times,’ but it’s fun having to rely on sound and suggestion so much.”

The kill that got cut for PG-13

One kill in question – which we won’t spoil here – ended up happening off camera rather than onscreen following the trims. And Johnston says that was much more effective.

Speaking to Total Film, the director explains: “I remember turning to my sound designer after a re-do and just saying, ‘Holy sh*t, that’s worse.’

“We were trying to get this PG-13 rating and I was like, ‘That is so much worse than what we had before.'”

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M3GAN hits U.S. screens on Friday and elsewhere throughout January.