British master of high-concept SF Alex Garland (writer of the novel Unfortunately, screenwriter of films such as 28 Days Later, Sunshine and Never Let Me Go, who later began directing films from his own scripts such as the excellent Ex-Machina and very good Annihilation) entered the field of folk horror with this disturbing film. Unfortunately, “Men” was also his weakest film so far, even though Garland must be acknowledged for making one of the creepiest and sickest films of the year, the ending of which is one of the most disturbed I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, everything that Garland previously succeeded in, which is a subtle allegory of the world we live in or what may await us in the near or distant future, was really too obvious and too direct here.
As the very name of this modern folk-horror suggests, the villains here are men, and Garland decided to ride the wave of the #MeToo movement, to denounce “toxic masculinity” or as the aggressive behavior of men towards the fairer sex is already described. Although visually “Men” looks impressive and the film is shot with a lot of style and with perfect effects, especially at the very end when it reaches an insane climax, the fact is that in recent years we have had much better and smarter films on the subject of male aggression and passive or direct of violence against women, which, unfortunately, “enjoyed” the main protagonist of the film.
In the opening scenes, we see Harper (the standard good Jessie Buckley) arriving in the English countryside where she has rented one of those typical idyllic old houses for a few weeks. Garland lets us know right away that Harper arrived there after a terrible breakup with her possessive, aggressive husband, and through flashbacks we will learn the details of their breakup over time. In that “Dream Country House”, as Harper describes this typical British dacha to a friend over the phone, she will be greeted by a local who seems sleazy at first, and the situation will very quickly become completely bizarre because not only men live there, but all of them they have the same face and all these types were embodied by the characterful British actor Rory Kinnear.
A tormented woman haunted by trauma, who has been burdened with a sense of guilt for years, from the beginning it will seem that someone is following and lurking there, and the abstract allegorical psychological drama will turn into a sick body horror until the end. Finely, Garland here contrasted mainly various shades of green, which symbolizes peace, nature and seems somehow soothing with all the real and fictitious horrors and fears that Harper experiences. So even though the point of the film is completely obvious even before the first ball is fired, a lot of it remains somehow hermetic, closed, incomprehensible and definitely “Men” was the most abstract, but also the weakest Garland film so far.