Men (2022)

Horror/ Drama/ Fantasy
Rated 15
Spoiler Free

Alex Garland is an interesting character. I wrote that certain I’d read an interview with him yonks ago and seen some juicy goss' suggesting he’s pretty feisty, but all a casual Google of him churns up is promo stuff and one of the worst interviews (not Garland’s fault but the writer) I’ve ever soured my yokes with. Garland, the writer of one of my favourite films, 28 Days Later, and now director of films I have vastly disparate opinions on, has gone balls out with Men.

I was intrigued by, but somewhat apprehensive of, Men because it looked a bit high concept and weird and God knows when I have mental space for that at the moment. However, Men was endorsed by a friend who deals with them emotions and whatnot professionally (and going on his Instagram successfully). I like that guy and trust his recommendations- he gave me It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

A young woman, Harper (Jesse Buckley), has suffered an almost incalculable, traumatic loss. Harper tries to achieve some respite with a country escape but instead the little England she chose closes in on her. It is raining men, and not in a fun, camp way, in a Thomas Hamilton taking you away to camp, way.

If it sounds nightmarish, as Rory Kinnear’s omnipresent every-man encircles Harper, the ick and threat slowly seeping down the wall compete with Harper's state of mind to discombobulate you completely. A slow grower, any safety Garland grants the viewer dissipates as the story gets bolder and the violence is no longer intimated.

Repulsed by it, I couldn’t stop watching Men. Unsettling yet hypnotic, with a vomit inducing what the fuck moment, the whole film is one descending, lucid nightmare which slowly tries to crawl away from inescapable madness. The fun thing is, you’re along for the ride!

The sound, that sound. HA-ha ha-ha. Ha-ha. HA-HA. Everything about Men, bar some ropey rotoscoping which I hope is deliberately unbelievable, is designed to unsettle you. Probably including that shite face imposition, on reflection. Men is a smorgasbord of visual metaphors; striking, trippy, weird but unique the men are all different parts of the same being. The allegory gets a little OTT but I like what Garland is doing.
Bedsit it?

At times a visually suggestive but quietly gross, at others a stomach churning extrovert, Men is for a good twenty or thirty minutes the most uncomfortable and scared I’ve been watching a horror in ages. The allegorical stuff wears a bit thin but the film makes up for it by just twisting the inside of your head more and more. Admirably nightmarish. 8/10

Men was one of the best things I saw last year. Check out these others!..


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