‘Men’ First Reactions: Alex Garland’s ‘Visceral as Hell’ A24 Horror Film Will ‘Make People Angry’

"Annihilation" director Garland takes audiences on another surreal trip that's "intense," "opaque," and "challenging," say first viewers.

Alex Garland’s new film “Men” has screened for journalists ahead of its Cannes Film Festival Quinzaine premiere and May 20 release from A24, and first reactions are in. See a roundup below.

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.”

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