Men (2022) opens with Harper Marlow (Jessie Buckley) arriving to housesit a beautiful old residence in the English country town of Cotson. A recent widow to an abusive spouse, James (Paapa Essiedu), Harper hopes to have some time and space to heal. However, her traumatic flashbacks mingle with reality as she is haunted by her dead husband in the form of various strange and terrifying male characters (Rory Kinnear).
I am not exaggerating when I say that this is one of the most terrifying films I have ever seen. It isn’t often that a film truly scares me, and I think what works for this one is the nightmarish unpredictability of the film’s plot. Conventional horror movies often rely on common tropes and become predictable. But, with the exception of Rory Kinnear playing every man except the dead husband, nothing about Men is predictable. Mid-way through the film, I found myself on the edge of my seat trying to be prepared for literally anything.
Alex Garland films are hit or miss for me. I thought Annihilation (2018) was brilliant but thought Ex Machina (2014) didn’t quite hit the mark. Regardless, I admire the surreal beauty that tends to permeate Garland’s style. In Men, the beauty of the English town and countryside is stunningly filmed. The utterly horrifying parts of the film even have their own type of grotesque beauty – certain shots reminded me of a Hieronymus Bosch painting. This movie’s surrealness is made even more grotesquely beautiful and effective by the Green Man imagery sprinkled throughout.
While I hesitate to recommend Men to the faint of heart (or the weak of stomach), I can say I genuinely appreciated the experience of seeing it in theater. Perhaps I will revisit it for Halloween this year.
Beautiful English Country Town10.0/10
Rory Kinnear Playing Every Man Except the Dead Husband10.0/10
Jessie Buckley is Talented and Beautiful10.0/10
Green Man Stuff10.0/10
- Director: Alex Garland
- Starring: Jessie Buckley, Rory Kinnear, Paapa Essiedu, Gayle Rankin
- Production Companies: DNA Films, A24