An exceptional film anchored by a mesmerizing performance by Jessie Buckley, Men is a hypnotic horror entry layered with meaning and purpose.
Escaping to the English countryside in an effort to heal herself after a personal tragedy, Harper (Buckley) finds herself being stalked as terror creeps, forcing her to confront her memories and fears. Alex Garland’s latest is an unsettling cinematic journey that is tough to turn away from, featuring a tornado of emotions emanating from the fantastic Buckley. The convergence of grief, guilt, and fear is explored through a melancholic tale that gradually devolves into cinematic horror, a tension-filled battle for physical and emotional survival. Garland utilizes a simplistic setting with a small cast and a haunting score to disarm the audience and hook them in, even as confusion may reign supreme. Rory Kinnear is a fitting antagonist in each of his problematic versions (the actor plays numerous roles), each peeling back the core thread of toxic masculinity that is ultimately driving the story.
Men will be a divisive film with some feeling that the story being told is too abstract, the final scenes too insane. Others will enjoy it for the horror presented at face value. All, however, are likely to be left pondering Garland’s true intent that lives within the obscure storytelling elements and shocking moments. Men left me pondering not only the aforementioned theme of toxic masculinity and the displayed misogyny, but the societal protections afforded to the worst of the men among us and the detrimental impacts on others, particularly women. There is a cyclical nature to the physical and emotional abuse considered throughout the poignant dialogue and well-crafted script emblematic of its pervasiveness throughout generations. Men leaves you with a lot to think about.
At the end of the day, Men will leave an impact on viewers, an engrossing original tale that takes the visual beauty depicted on screen, the incredible performance by Buckley, and the brilliant imagination of its filmmaker to deliver an expertly crafted, surreal powerhouse of a film.
Men hits theaters on May 20th, 2022.
Photo from That Hashtag Show