MEN (2022) 20 reviews of Alex Garland’s surreal drama film

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‘What haunts you will find you.’
Men is a 2022 British surreal drama film about a young woman who goes on a solo break to the English countryside after the death of her ex-husband.

Written and directed by Alex Garland (Annihilation; Ex Machina; writer of Dredd; 28 Weeks Later; Sunshine).

The A24 production stars Jessie Buckley (The Lost Daughter; I’m Thinking of Ending Things; The Courier; The Woman in White series; The Tempest), Rory Kinnear (No Time to Die; Peterloo; Spectre; The Imitation Game; Skyfall; Quantum of Solace) and Paapa Essiedu (Gangs of London series; Murder on the Orient Express; King Lear 2014).

“In the aftermath of a personal tragedy, Harper (Buckley) retreats alone to the beautiful English countryside, hoping to have found a place to heal. But someone or something from the surrounding woods appears to be stalking her. What begins as simmering dread becomes a fully-formed nightmare, inhabited by her darkest memories and fears in visionary filmmaker Alex Garland’s shape-shifting new horror film.”


Men takes a long while to get going. Jessie Buckley’s understandably upset character wanders the beautiful English countryside distraught and it’s almost halfway into the film before there is anything of note that happens (except the brief flashback to her former partner’s suicide or, more likely, fatal accident).

Although it’s a clever cinematic ruse, by having Rory Kinnear play several characters Men comes across as more Pythonesque than sinister. Men are obviously the issue/villains here but Alex Garland’s delivery is so unsubtle and cackhanded, hence the painfully obviously title, it makes a mockery of his intentions to vilify misogyny.

Mis-sold by A24 as horror, there is nothing but angst and unease although it is genuinely surreal and the cinematography by former music video director Rob Hardy is commendable. Unfortunately, Men is fairly dull and simply fizzles out at the end.
Adrian J Smith. MOVIES and MANIA


Other reviews:
“Alex Garland’s third film will be polarizing, but this reviewer loved its narrative complexity, nightmarish imagery, and stunning performances by Jessie Buckley and Rory Kinnear.” 4/5 Dread Central

“Both Buckley and Kinnear give outstanding performances that deserve all the recognition and acclaim, with Rory doing an impressive turn playing multiple characters. My only concern is that the film may be too abstract for mainstream audiences and may not be easily digestible. But aside from that, Men is a visual feast of nightmarish imagery that’ll for sure get people talking.” Nightmarish Conjurings

” …Men reaches a point where my mouth was struck agape by what I was watching. I find that films are never willing to be as disgusting as I’d like them to be, so I was delighted by this development. In the end, Men works best as a surprising slice of cosmic horror and a showcase for Buckley in a near-constant state of emotional duress, particularly her on-screen screaming abilities.” The Playlist

Men isn’t a simple or simplistic tract, though; Garland leaves a lot to the audience’s judgment, and poses questions for us to answer based on our own experiences. Nor does he let the sociopolitical side of the material overwhelm his other, very much achieved goal here, of making one hell of a creepy horror film. Garland maintains a pitch-perfect control of atmosphere and slowly rising tension…” Rue Morgue

“Garland leaves things hanging, choosing to remain vague and open-ended so the audience will have something to chew on after, including the religious imagery noticeably present throughout. Regardless of its shortfalls, however, Men is captivating from start to finish, bizarre, and surreal.” 3/5 Screen Rant

“While heavily influenced with symbolism and weighty thematic material, the more abstract nature of the third act, coupled with interesting editing decisions and the abrupt feel of its ending, ends up shrinking the success that could have been. Such is the nature of experimenting and taking risks in storytelling.” 6/10 Vital Thrills

“Considerable craft, smarts, and imagination have certainly gone into Men — from Kinnear’s heavy lifting to the eerily placid cinematography of frequent Garland collaborator Rob Hardy to that gonzo effects climax — but it only ever feels like you’re watching a horror exhibit from behind a rope rather than a nightmare from inside it.” The Wrap

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