Sommereleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer
Plot: A young woman goes on a solo vacation to the English countryside following the death of her husband.
Review: As a horror fan I’ve been a bit disappointed by the movies I’ve seen for the year thus far. I watch three horror movies a week (at the very least) but nothing left any kind of lasting impact. That is until I saw writer/director Alex Garland’s Men.
As a fan of his previous films Ex-Machina and Annihilation (the latter I think is grossly underrated), I had to see what this movie was about. And while I can’t honestly say I understand it wholly, I did without a doubt find it completely engaging, well-paced and most importantly, deeply unnerving.
The story starts off simply enough, with a woman struggling with the grief of losing her husband renting a house in the remote countryside with the hope of healing. But there’s something very odd about this place, something we the viewer will notice but, as far as I can tell, Harper (Jessie Buckley) doesn’t. This village seems to be made up of only men and every one of these men have the exact same face (and are played by the same actor, Rory Kinnear).
While Jessie Buckley does a wonderful job of portraying Harper, it’s Kinnear’s performance(s) that had me glued to my seat. I’ve been a fan ever since seeing him in the short-lived gothic horror series, Penny Dreadful, where he played Frankenstein’s monster in what I think is the best iteration of the creature ever brought to screen. Watching him take on these multiple roles, each unique yet each with an air of menace to them, was amazing. Add to that the beautiful cinematography, haunting score and that nightmare-inducing third act and Men is most certainly a solid addition to Garland’s body of work.
That said, this is definitely not a horror movie I would recommend to casual viewers. This isn’t meant to be a dig at the film but, like his other works, Garland’s Men is chock full of symbolism and will require multiple viewings to unpack everything. I also think it’s one of those movies that may be interpreted in different ways, depending on the viewer. Some may see it as a metaphor for toxic masculinity or the controlling nature of the patriarchy (a young boy curses at Harper, the owner of the manor makes comments about tampons and questions the whereabouts of her husband, the priest blames her for her husband’s death and even hits on her, and these are just a few examples) while others may see it as a woman going through the different stages of grief. Whatever you take away from it, we can all agree Men builds on its dread and tension until you find yourself literally holding your breath.
It may not be for everyone but I think the best horror movies are the ones that leave an indelible impression. And no matter which side of the fence you land on after watching it, we can all agree Men definitely does that and then some.
Score: 7 out of 10
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
Double Tap Baby!
So have you seen Men? What did you think of it? And you can check out more recent horror movie reviews below: