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Garland’s ‘Men’ melts minds and horrifies for better or for worse

Garland’s ‘Men’ melts minds and horrifies for better or for worse

Garland’s ‘Men’ melts minds and horrifies for better or for worse
May 26
12:00 2022

When talking about directors who have made giant impacts in little time, Alex Garland is a name sure to pop up on every list. Before “Men” hits theaters, he had two well-received films in “Ex Machina” and “Annihilation.” Of the three films he has released “Men” may be my least favorite, but the more I sit on it the more I can’t get it out of my head. Where it lacks in thematic development, it makes up for in pure horror, with most of its horrific images still circulating in my head as I write this. If nothing else, “Men” gets the job done, making audiences sweat and squirm while dividing them by the end.

After her husband takes his own life, Harper looks to go on a vacation by herself. It just so happens every man she meets on this trip is a different version of the worst person ever, turning her peaceful getaway into a dreaded nightmare.

Above anything else, Jessie Buckley deserves every ounce of love available for her performance in this movie. Her character Harper goes through every single emotion imaginable, but those specific moments of terror and grief have sat with me for many days now. I have only seen her in “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” outside of this film, so I think I speak for everyone when I say she deserves to be happy and have only happy things happen to her in Buckley’s next big project. Rory Kinnear is also a powerhouse in the film, as he embodies almost every single male character seen on screen. From a child to a police officer, Kinnear shows off quite a bit of range, but keeps a slice of unsettlement for every character he plays in the movie.

What Garland is trying to convey is pretty straightforward. No matter how nice and welcoming a man may seem on the outside, eventually, those outer layers weather away, subjecting women to a lot of the relevant and unfortunate real-life horrors of today. It is an extremely uncomfortable movie to watch, and the first two acts really establish how terrible all of these men are. All of this along with the context of why Harper and her husband truly split up sprinkled throughout really brings everything together in a neat but terrifying way.

Where the film may lose a lot of audiences is how this message is conveyed. The imagery is all there, and don’t expect any type of hand-holding or help along the way. Not to say all movies need those to get the audience from beginning to end, but this film would have certainly benefitted from some expansion on its main theme. Every detail matters, and if you find yourself lost at any point you may be lost until an article has to explain to you what the ending truly meant after the movie has finished. Between this film and “Last Night in Soho,” I find it strange how a lot of men are making these projects about the troubles of women dealing with men. I am not necessarily against the idea, I just prefer when these stories are in the hands of a woman, and it is clear why in this film. 

The last chunk of this movie does everything it can to make you as uncomfortable as possible, and since it is a horror movie, it gets a golden star for checking those boxes. Very rarely do I cower into my shirt during a horror movie but this flick had me doing so on multiple occasions. I just have a lot of combatting feelings about this movie. There was a lot I loved and a lot I wish would have been handled differently, but I am trying my best to inject as much positivity as I can into these reviews, so I’d say give it a shot just to see another one of those off-the-wall A24 horror movies.

Jaden’s Rating: 3.5/5

Image source: IMDb

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Jaden Oberkrom

Jaden Oberkrom

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