Horror Dances

Megan Dance Scene: Can A Viral Dance Create A Horror Icon?

What must a horror character do to become a cult or even an icon? As we claimed in our review of Art Clown films, in some cases, success comes after hard work and many films. There are cases where an icon is made following the tremendous success of one movie or even an unforgettable physical look. And there are cases where a few seconds from a movie are enough to, perhaps, make the character famous—even just one dance.

If you ask many horror fans, the reason why some consider the murderous robot “Megan” (“M3gan”) a horror icon—or at least one of the most significant figures in horror cinema in recent years, with sequels on the horizon and a wide range of merchandise—is that dance scene in the office building. What is it about Megan’s dance that manages to become such a big hit, especially on social media?

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Why Does Megan Dance?

“Megan” is one of the standout horror movies of 2023 (actually, it’s not included in our horror movies of 2022 review because it comes out a few days into 2023). If you haven’t seen this hit movie, “Megan” is about an employee at a toy manufacturing company named Gemma (Allison Williams), raising her niece Cady (Violet McGraw) following a tragic accident for her parents. Gemma develops a fashionable, intelligent, and very friendly artificial intelligence robot that becomes Cady’s best friend.

The adorable Megan, however, has one big bug in the making. At one point, Megan develops self-awareness and feelings of jealousy for anyone who threatens to take Cady away from her. The film has several hot kill scenes, one in the forest and the other in an office building, after a weird but captivating dance.

At some point, Megan realizes that the company that developed it wants to eliminate the project, which is out of control. She ambushes the CEO, David – who tried to keep her for financial reasons – and bursts into a creative dance that includes gyrations, hand movements, flip, and some other movements that may have more professional terms that I don’t know because I’m a terrible dancer. Megan does all this just to pick up a sword, chase the manager into the elevator, and murder him, along with another hapless employee. 

Megan dance scene makes sense within the film’s plot because Megan uses the dance to distract the guy while she takes the sword and slowly follows him as he runs, Which won’t stop her from catching him in the end.

What Song Does Megan Dance To? 

The soundtrack of “Megan” includes some excellent choices. Some of them are inside the inner world of the film, that is, what we see on the Screen. Sounds of this type, which include actors’ voices, musical instruments playing in the frame, or even music playing on the radio on car, are called “diegetic sound” (meaning, on Screen). In one of the other memorable scenes in the film, Megan – voiced by young actress Jenna David (not to be confused with Geena Davis, the veteran Oscar winner Geena Davis) – sings David Guetta and Sia’s “Titanium” to calm Cady down after a nightmare she had.

Megan dance scene, however, pushes the boundaries. Megan dances to “Walk the Night,” the biggest hit of the Skatt Brothers band from Los Angeles, active from 1973-1983. The integration of the song in the film is “Extra Diegetic” (Off Screen), a term that describes sounds that come from outside the fictional creative world, such as background music and effects. We hear the song regardless of the scene and as a combination of fragments from other scenes (Jemma is driving in her car), and its volume changes according to the event in the frame. 

Even so, Megan dance song fits the scene, or should we say, fits perfectly with her random dance in an office building. Because who doesn’t have this desire to start dancing in the lobby of a prestigious building?

Megan Dance Didn’t Come From Nowhere

New Zealand actress Amy Donald, then 11 years old, played the character of “Megan” under the doll’s mask, and she is the one who performs Megan’s dance. Although the dance is relatively short and includes cuts, which may almost immediately take away the “professional” impression, one can certainly be impressed by the abilities of the young actress, who is also a dancer and gymnast in her spare time.

David built the dance with Kylie Norris, her choreographer and dance teacher for years: Norris, for example, accompanied her to the World Dance Championships in Portugal in 2019, where she won silver and bronze medals. When the creators realized they had a talented dancer in front of them, they asked who taught her and decided to include her in the work of the film. At the same time, Donald also took movement training – partly from the actor Jed Brody, who played Nori in “The Hobbit” films (one of the 13 dwarves who accompany Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf in their adventures) and in the Amazon series “The Lord of the Rings.”

The idea about this creepy Megan dance differed from the film’s original script, and like many other essential things in our lives, it came in the middle of the night. “I thought it was one of those ideas you come up with when you just haven’t had enough sleep. It just felt like this is the kind of fun we need,” said the film’s director, Gerard Johnston. “Wouldn’t it kind of be funny if the soundtrack suddenly became real and “Megam” ended up busting a move to whatever music was playing? It was just something that everyone embraced and loved.”

Despite the pressing schedule and the fact that it is not customary to make changes during filming, they decided to include the dance in its current format. “Thank god I didn’t change it. Thank god I didn’t do something else, because it just felt like it was the perfect level of something that someone could do themselves at home, apart from the flip.”

“The Dance Is So Weird, But It Works”

Johnston approached Norris and Brody, told them about his vision, and gave them – and Donald herself – freedom to build the choreography. “It was incredibly natural and organic creating the choreography with Amie as we know each other so well”, Norris described in an interview. “I went with my gut instinct and thought, ‘If Gerard hates this, he won’t use it!’ When it comes to choreography, I just do me.”

The screenwriter, Akela Cooper, accepted the change, reflected in the later versions of her script. “There are such absurd moments that Gerard added, which gives it that fun, camp feel,” she said. “I didn’t write M3gan dancing; I wrote her on a killing spree. When I saw it, I thought, ‘This is so weird, but it works. That makes the death all the more uncomfortable.'”

The result greatly surprised the cast. “When she did it for the first time, we were all just like, it was spontaneous applause from the whole crew. It was just the most stunning display of skill,” Alison Williams said afterward. “Then to see it actually being performed and then finally to see it on screen, it’s just instantly iconic.”

Megan Dance Becomes Tiktok Sensation

One of the reasons for the success of dances today is social networks, and you don’t need to be a genius in the field to assume that following the tremendous buzz of dance scenes in recent years – for example, the Wednesday dance we wrote about not long ago – we will see even more icons dancing soon. In Megan’s case, there was a massive explosion around this character on social media, even before the movie came out. The trailer, released in October 2022 and featuring parts of the dance, contributed to this buzz.

Undoubtedly, the film’s advertising campaign was very creative. At halftime of one NFL game, a group of models dressed as Megan took the field. When the film’s star, Allison Williams, was interviewed as part of the film’s promotional campaign, dancers dressed as Megan danced outside the studios. In various crowded places, mainly in the United States, such as the Empire State Building or near the American Girl store, we saw a group of women dancing dressed as Megan. Of course, it wasn’t always the dance from the movie, but other movements can also be creepy when done by many “Megans” in one place.

@screenthrill Genius marketing! 8 women dressed as #M3GAN dolls from the upcoming movie and took over the halftime of the #Rams#Chargers #football ♬ Dolls – Bella Poarch

The hysteria, of course, only increased after the film came out, thanks to its impressive box office success (over $180 million worldwide), the fact that critics also loved the movie (93% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, as of this writing) and its virality, which came to me Expression mainly in the dance scene. The hashtag #M3gandance was among the most popular on Twitter and Instagram, with hundreds of millions of tags that continue today. People learned how to do the Megan dance. As always, celebrities tried their luck at dancing, only sometimes with success. Here, for example, Drew Barrymore dresses up as Megan and recreates the dance in front of the amused Alison Williams:

Universal Studios knew what they were doing and who they were targeting, not only in the Megan dance but in general. The Hollywood Reporter defined “Megan” as “a horror film for the TikTok generation.” The makers are said to have decided to cut parts of the film that were too violent or scary for it to be rated PG-13 rather than R, which may disappoint die-hard horror fans who like movies that go to extremes – but significantly increase the film’s target audience, as the film appealed to Many teenagers who came (at least we hope) with their responsible adult.

After the film’s great success and memorable dance – Which obviously resulted in relevant products, like the Megan dance doll – we need to ask another critical question: Will the sequel, which should hit the screens in May 2025, have at least one dance scene that will become viral? Donald, Norris, and the filmmakers have plenty of time to start working on it.

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