After directing the heady FX sci-fi series “Devs,” Alex Garland returns to the realm of “Annihilation”-esque mind-tripping horror with his latest film.
Oscar nominee Jessie Buckley stars as Harper, a young widow who has rented an isolated holiday home in the English countryside amid guilt over the death of her husband (Paapa Essiedu), an apparent suicide. Meanwhile, she can’t stop seeing the face of Rory Kinnear as an innkeeper in every resident of the town and stalking her every move. What does it all mean?
While the reactions avoid spoilers, there’s definitely enough here to bite on in terms of getting a sense of what Garland has in store.
“Garland’s MEN is a bit like Malick going from THIN RED LINE to TREE OF LIFE. Don’t expect a hard sci-fi vision, just expect a vision: an intense surrealist twist on the Final Girl trope. Will lead to more questions than answers but theories will abound,” IndieWire’s Eric Kohn wrote.
“I’ll say this for Alex Garland’s half-formed but fully intriguing MEN, which cleaves much closer to the abstruseness of Annihilation than its discourse-baiting title might suggest: it’s rare to see a movie that evokes Richard Curtis and Lars von Trier in almost equal measure,” David Ehrlich wrote.
The upcoming A24 film and Garland’s third feature is “a horror movie about a sense of horror,” or, more simply, “a ghost story,” as the director told Entertainment Weekly.
“In my mind, a film like ‘Men’ is connected to a film like ‘Annihilation,’” Garland told EW. “They’re very much about how you’re feeling about something. ‘Men’ is a gut-level film. I’m proud of ‘Ex Machina,’ I really love it, but it’s an intellectual film. ‘Men’ is not, I think.”
Garland continued, “When I say it’s a slightly aggressive film, that’s what I mean: It’s coming at the viewer. It’s a gentle movie sometimes, there’s lots of silly humor in there, but it’s also a bit delinquent.”
In the interview, he assured that, per the title, gender is indeed explored throughout what viewers are calling a surreal folk horror film.
“It comes up a lot, in different ways,” Garland said. “With ‘Men,’ I just sort of thought, ‘Screw it, I’m just gonna go straight into this.’ Maybe it’s just that with ‘Men,’ instead of running underneath, it sits there on the surface.”
He added of the independent film, “I’m in my early 50s and my main problem with film tends to be feeling bored. I sort of feel like I know where this is gonna go, I feel like I’ve seen this or that sequence of events play out an unbelievable number of times. I’m hoping to disrupt that a bit.”
Garland’s MEN is a bit like Malick going from THIN RED LINE to TREE OF LIFE. Don’t expect a hard sci-fi vision, just expect a vision: an intense surrealist twist on the Final Girl trope. Will lead to more questions than answers but theories will abound. https://t.co/k16PW87KLw
— erickohn (@erickohn) May 2, 2022
i'll say this for Alex Garland's half-formed but fully intriguing MEN, which cleaves much closer to the abstruseness of Annihilation than its discourse-baiting title might suggest: it's rare to see a movie that evokes Richard Curtis and Lars von Trier in almost equal measure.
— david ehrlich (@davidehrlich) May 2, 2022
Alex Garland's MEN is going to be even more of a conversation-starter than ANNIHILATION or EX MACHINA, but I suspect there's going to be much less agreement about what's going on. It's intense, opaque, challenging, and visceral as hell. It'll make people angry, at the very least. pic.twitter.com/ao19AhN6w6
— Tasha Robinson (@TashaRobinson) May 2, 2022
Alex Garland’s MEN is, of course, psychologically terrifying but funnier than expected thanks to a versatile Rory Kinnear. Jessie Buckley continues to amaze. Thematically layered & vividly constructed with an unforgettable final sequence. Lots to absorb on just a single viewing. pic.twitter.com/bf10Jg7nuk
— Matt Neglia (@NextBestPicture) May 2, 2022
MEN: Alex Garland's most nakedly horror movie, and also his weirdest. A surreal folk horror film that starts off as an unsettling home invasion thriller and gets stranger (and gorier) from there. I loved it?? Audiences will hate it!
— Hoai-Tran Bui (@htranbui) May 2, 2022
I saw Alex Garland's new movie MEN. It's his most stripped-down and primal film yet. Removing the sci-fi veneer of Garland's previous work reveals he's actually the most talented surrealist director working today. The ending of MEN is also even weirder than ANNIHILATION's ending. pic.twitter.com/1FNStblELz
— Jake (@jacobkleinman) May 2, 2022
Men is not my favorite Alex Garland movie, but it most certainly does extend his impressive streak of making complex, fascinating, and layered genre stories that fuck with your head for days. The ending is certainly a jaw dropper, and executes some brilliant body horror. #Men pic.twitter.com/hS4OqCt8qC
— Eric Eisenberg (@eeisenberg) May 2, 2022
Alex Garland's MEN is guaranteed to be polarizing. Provocative in its execution, Garland is again unafraid to take risks, with memorable body horror moments in @men_movie that sear the mind. Jessie Buckley and Rory Kinnear make it difficult to look away onscreen. #MenMovie pic.twitter.com/XaXbUSHX8f
— Sarah Musnicky (@sarahmusnicky) May 2, 2022
Always been a Rory Kinnear fan but what he does in Alex Garland's MEN – playing about 500 roles (slight exaggeration), all creepy or uneasy in their own way – is next level. pic.twitter.com/7DBKtg37ia
— Kevin Polowy (@djkevlar) May 2, 2022