Seems like a while since we’ve had some good techno-horror to warn us about the dangers artificial intelligence, computers, and the Internet. But as smart home technology like Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa expands, it was only a matter of time before we got a movie like the new Margaux. This one looks like it has the production values that would have normally at least earned it a late August theatrical release before COVID. Instead smart home thriller Margaux is available on VOD platforms. So if you’re not going to theaters to see Barbarian this weekend, maybe unplug your Echo Dot for some privacy from online data miners, and give Margaux a try.
Five college friends break away from the dorms and studies for a weekend getaway at a fancy house rental. When they arrive they find a state-of-the-art smart home with an advanced AI, Margaux, who’s equipped to provide them with any convenience they desire.
Margaux Aims For Popcorn Entertainment, Lands on Stupid
Things start with quite a fun bang in Margaux. Director Steven C. Miller (Silent Night) shows some inventiveness with the premise that teases a wild B-movie. Poor Lochlyn Munroe (Riverdale) doesn’t last long but his death scene immediately puts to rest any concerns that Margaux is going to be a light PG-13 teen horror movie. Everything from pool cleaners to exercise bikes get involved in increasingly ridiculous scenarios, which is part of the thriller’s fun. Once Miller ramps things up for the finale, Margaux pulls out the kind of crazy scene that turns some movies into cult classics. In fact, so much happens here that what follows may feel like a letdown.
Once Miller ramps things up for the finale, Margaux pulls out the kind of crazy scene that turns some movies into cult classics.
Yet what follows feels like an incredible leap from popcorn silliness into head-scratching stupidity. And here’s one of the biggest problems with Margaux. Miller constantly overextends himself as Margaux stretches the limits of its budget and logic. On one hand, Margaux embraces a techno-horror trope as little that happens conforms to the limits of real technology. This isn’t necessarily a problem except that Miller doesn’t have the budget to pull things off like robotic claws that extend from the house. Though it was never a grounded examination of the dangers of AI technology Miller threatens to push its climax into SyFy movie territory. And even if the effects aren’t distracting, the thriller’s final moments, which includes an inexplicable smackdown feels more stupid than B-movie fun.
Margaux Lacks Internal Logic While Leaning Too Heavily on Recycled Ideas
Ultimately, Margaux’s biggest problems isn’t being a stupid movie. Plenty of popcorn horror movies are stupid while also entertaining. No, writers Chris Beyrooty, Chris Sivertson, and Nick Waters saddle this techno-thriller with no internal logic. Stupid and implausible is fine if there’s some internal rules that a story follows. But Margaux makes stuff up as it goes along. There’s some pretty basic stuff left unexplained. After all, someone has to be paying the mortgage on this house. That and other seemingly important plot points get glossed over. Slow pacing in the middle act and an overabundance of slow-motion shots only exacerbate this problem.
Stupid and implausible is fine if there’s some internal rules that a story follows.
All this lazy writing makes its way into the casting and characters. And the performances across the board are all better than what you’d usually find in this sort of movie – it’s not on the actors. Instead, the problems lies in cardboard cutout characters that you probably thought Cabin in the Woods satirized out of existence. All of the characters and the relationships between them are tropes. Perhaps the most annoying trope in Margaux is the recycled use of of extremely attractive people playing ‘nerds’ on screen. Richard Harmon’s stoner ‘Clay’ looks like he could be the group’s professor, not their slacker buddy. At least Riverdale’s Vanessa Morgan has fun as the vain Instagram influencer. Too bad Margaux doesn’t have much to say about the technology it uses as a monster.
Margaux is Silly, Watchable But Feels Like a Missed Opportunity
If you’re looking for a clever, subversive horror take on AI and smart home technology, Margaux isn’t that movie. Instead, what you get here is a big and dumb slice of B-movie that may be of the ‘so bad, it’s good’ variety. Nothing here makes much sense – there’s no internal logic. But there’s some fun over-the-top violence and occasional blood-spurting. What holds Margaux back from real B-movie greatness is its tendency to over-extend itself and overstay its welcome.